NEW YORK – DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, Kyle Lowry added 22, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 87-79 on Sunday night to even their Eastern Conference first-round series at two games apiece.
Amir Johnson had 17 points for the Raptors, who started fast, gave up all of a 17-point lead, then shut the Nets down over the final 5 minutes to snap a 13-game road losing streak in the playoffs that went back 13 years.
Game 5 is Wednesday night in Toronto, with the series now guaranteed a return to Brooklyn on Friday for Game 6.
Paul Pierce scored 22 points for the Nets, who were 3 for 17 in the fourth quarter and didn’t have a field goal after Pierce’s basket with 6:13 left gave them a 77-73 lead.
Kevin Garnett had 10 points for the Nets, but Joe Johnson and Deron Williams were mostly non-factors in getting outplayed by Toronto’s backcourt. Johnson had only seven points on seven shots after averaging 23.7 points in the first three games, and Williams was 4 of 12 for his 10.
Pierce nearly carried the Nets without them, but Toronto put it together down the stretch to pull it out.
Garnett gave the Nets their last lead with two free throws with 4:58 left, but DeRozan made two free throws before Greivis Vasquez made a 3-pointer for an 83-79 advantage. The Nets had a series of offensive fouls along with their missed shots, and Lowry made a basket with 1:13 to go before closing it out with a pair of free throws.
The point guard bounced back nicely after the Nets banged him around in their Game 3 victory. Toronto nearly came from 15 down in the final 5 minutes to win that one, and carried that momentum into a quick start Sunday.
The Raptors scored a franchise playoff-record 35 points in the first quarter, then managed just 32 combined in the second and third as the Nets surged ahead with a 22-4 run.
The Raptors were 4 for 21 in the third, but then turned to their defense down the stretch for their first road victory in the postseason since winning at Philadelphia in Game 1 of the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Now they won’t need to win on the road again, with home-court advantage back in their favor.
The Raptors scored the first six points during a 13-2 start, extended it to 33-18 after five straight points by Amir Johnson, and were ahead 35-22 after one. Johnson shot 5 of 6 for his 11 points, and DeRozan and Lowry each had 10.
The lead grew to 47-30 after DeRozan scored eight straight Toronto points, but Lowry picked up his third foul and had to go to the bench with the Raptors leading 47-34. Brooklyn closed the half with a 10-4 spurt, cutting it to 51-44 at the break.
Pierce and Garnett combined for seven of Brooklyn’s final nine points of the half, then Pierce opened the second with a 3-pointer and a layup. After Shaun Livingston’s free throw, Garnett added another basket to make it 52-51, giving Brooklyn its first lead.
The game was tied at 67 after three.