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Nets slip past Raptors
Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - The injury-ridden Brooklyn Nets picked up a close win against a first-place team Tuesday, albeit a weak one in the Toronto Raptors.
Andray Blatche scored 24 points, Joe Johnson added 21 and the Nets survived a late push to pull out 102-100 victory -- just their fourth of the season.
Brooklyn figured to be a player in the Eastern Conference race, but injuries to regulars Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko has the club scuffling out of the gate with 10 losses in its first 14 games.
The Nets upended their Atlantic Division rivals despite failing to make a field goal over the final 5:21. The Raptors sit atop the standings even though they are under .500 at 6-8.
The backcourt combination of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry paced Toronto with 27 and 24 points, respectively, while Rudy Gay struggled with just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting to go with seven turnovers.
Gay did, however, make a 3-pointer with 23.7 seconds to go to pull the Raptors within 101-100, capping a furious 14-0 flurry that made things interesting down the stretch.
Shaun Livingston went 1-for-2 at the foul line at the other end to give Toronto a chance to tie or go ahead, but the comeback fell short as Amir Johnson was short on a corner 3-pointer and Steve Novak couldn't get his off- balance tip-in to draw iron.
"Fortunately we built such a big lead, or if it was any closer we would have lost it," said Paul Pierce, who finished with 16 points for the Nets.
After the Nets went on a 10-0 run to break an early 6-6 tie, DeRozan erupted for 13 points in a four-minute span to keep the visitors from extending the lead. DeRozan's third 3-pointer of the quarter sparked a 9-0 run that gave Toronto a 28-26 edge at the end of 12 minutes.
Brooklyn finished the second quarter strong, as seven consecutive points from Johnson followed by Mason Plumlee's reverse slam in the closing minutes of the half staked the Nets to a 55-51 lead at the break.
The Raptors never led in the second half but got as close as 77-76 in the final minute of the third quarter before the Nets went on a 14-4 run to rebuild their double-digit lead.
With 5:22 remaining, Blatche hit a turnaround jumper to give Brooklyn its biggest cushion at 101-86, which proved to be just enough to come away victorious.
"We waited too long to lock down and throw a punch back," DeRozan said.
Brooklyn's Kevin Garnett had 12 points and six rebounds and moved past Hall- of-Famer Gary Payton into sole possession of ninth place on the NBA's all-time games played list ... Pierce is now 23rd all-time in minutes played, passing the 40,726 minutes played by legend Bill Russell ... The Nets are 8-1 in Toronto when scoring 100-plus points ... Brooklyn outscored the Raptors in the paint by a 48-28 margin.
11/26 23:40:43 ET