Rapid Reaction: Nets 101, Raptors 97

NEW YORK -- What a game. What a playoff-like atmosphere.

Although Jason Kidd didn’t expect Paul Pierce to play on Monday night, Pierce told his coach he was suiting up -- and it’s a good thing he did.

Pierce snapped a 94-all tie by hitting a 3-pointer with 1:14 left, and the Brooklyn Nets won their eighth straight home game 101-97 over the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center.

Shaun Livingston came up with a steal with 25 seconds remaining to preserve the win. Kyle Lowry had a chance to tie the game, but he missed a 3 with 10 seconds left.

What it means: The Nets (32-30) trail the Raptors (35-27) by just three games in the standings with 20 games remaining. The season series ends tied up at 2-2, which means if the two teams are tied in the standings at the end of the season, the tiebreaker would be division record: Toronto is currently 8-3, Brooklyn is 7-5.

Deron Williams was sensational, shaking off a slow start to pour in 18 points -- 12 in the second half.

Livingston also had 18 points, while Pierce had 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.

Joe Johnson had 14 points, while Alan Anderson chipped in 11 off the bench.

The Nets shot 48.6 percent from the field and finished 11-for-20 from 3-point range after a 1-for-7 start.

Game of runs: Williams and Johnson gave the Nets a 13-point lead in the third when they knocked down four consecutive 3-pointers, encompassing a 12-0 run. The Raptors countered with an 11-0 run of their own, but Marcus Thornton drained a 3-pointer and the Nets led 78-73 heading into the fourth.

Brooklyn trailed by as many as 12 early -- falling behind 30-19 after the first quarter. But the Nets outscored the Raptors 31-21 in the second, and it was 51-50 Toronto at the half.

Walking wounded: The Nets were without Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko. Garnett was expected to return but was scratched just minutes before tipoff. He has missed six straight games due to back spasms. Kirilenko was out with a sprained right ankle.

Up next: The Nets face the two-time defending champion Miami Heat on Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena