TORONTO –- The Brooklyn Nets, a team that costs nearly $200 million in salary and luxury tax, is one loss away from their season ending.
The Nets fell behind by 26 in the third and made an incredible comeback to erase the deficit, only to see Kyle Lowry take over. Lowry hit two big baskets late, including a 3-pointer that snapped a 106-106 tie with 1:04 left, to lift Toronto to a 115-113 Game 5 victory at the Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
What it means: The Nets, built to win it all, now have to win two straight, including a potential Game 7 in Toronto to get out of the first round. But can they mentally rebound after losing the last two?
The Nets finished the game strong, erasing a 26-point deficit and tying the game several times in the final minutes. They had a chance to tie or win the game late, but Andray Blatche threw the ball into the backcourt for a violation after an offensive rebound off a missed free throw on the final Nets possession.
Lowry won the point guard battle against Deron Williams and finished with 36 points.
After saying he had to play more aggressive, Williams finished with 13 points and nine assists.
Lowry Guarded by Deron Williams, 2014 Playoffs
Game of runs: The Nets were up 40-36 with 5:26 remaining in the first half when Toronto hit Brooklyn with a monster 26-4 run. The Raptors made 7 of 10 shots to end the half and scored 13 unanswered at one point.
Lowry was the catalyst, scoring 13 of his points in the last 4:27, including a back-breaking 31-foot runner off the glass at the buzzer to send Toronto into the locker room with a 62-44 lead. The Nets’ defense gave up yet another 30-point quarter as Toronto scored 34 in the second.
But the Nets made their own run, erasing a 26-point third-quarter deficit and tying the game at 101 with 3:16 left. Brooklyn trailed 94-72 early in the fourth but used a 29-7 run to even it up.
Johnson, saddled with foul trouble early, caught fire, and tied the game with a 3-pointer. The Nets made the run with Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the bench.
Passive-aggressive Deron: The super-aggressive Williams was nowhere to be found in the first half. He stumbled early in the game after stepping on Johnson and was hobbled but seemed OK. But his offense was AWOL in the first half as he was completely outplayed by Lowry and had just three points in the first half.
Williams was on the floor when the Nets made their second-half run and erased the 26-point deficit and played more aggressive in the fourth.
BK stand up: Barclays Center writer Lenn Robbins tried to inspire Nets fans by tweeting on the Nets' official Twitter account during the game to take notice of the Raptors' strong and loud fan showing. Robbins has tweeted on the Nets' official account at times during the playoffs.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 1, 2014
What’s next: The Nets return to Brooklyn Friday for Game 6.