Raptors' Rapid Recap - New Jersey Nets 137 - Toronto Raptors 136


-And so ends the great UK NBA experiment.  In a triple OT game that neither team seemingly wanted to win, the New Jersey Nets finally emerged victorious, 137 to 136.  The win marked a sweep of the Raps by the Nets with the teams playing a back-to-back affair, and now Toronto limps back to the friendly confines of the Air Canada Center having won only six games in 2011.

-The difference in the end?  The Nets' grit.  While the teams were neck-and-neck through most of this one, New Jersey did the little things needed when the game was on the line and got the W.  This included out-rebounding Toronto in the final OT sessions, getting to the free-throw line more often, and out-executing TO when it counted.  (Albeit barely - the Nets had some their share of terrible displays of offense too.)

-Leading the way for the Nets was the trio of Deron Williams, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez.  Williams was only 7 of 20 from the field but hit a big basket late to ensure the Nets stayed alive.  He also doled out a ridiculous 18 assists. Hump was the difference maker in the game's final portions thanks to his play in the paint, and he had 20 points and 17 rebounds to go with the best defense in the arena.  And while Mr. Lopez fouled out in the second OT session, he was dominant all night with 34 points, 14 boards and 8 blocks.  Toronto had no answer and New Jersey's play in the paint was a big difference maker.

-The sad thing is that once Lopez fouled out, the Raptors seemed to go out of their way to take advantage of his absence!  They settled for jumpers, got out-rebounded, and didn't play with the aggression needed inside.  Andrea Bargnani was the biggest culprit here as while he had a game-high 35 points, he hit only 11 of his 28 shots and failed miserably in terms of execution to close out two straight OT periods.  Yes, he played 51 minutes and might have been tired to end this one, but if that was the case, Jay Triano probably should have put the ball in someone else's hands.

-On the bright side, DeMar DeRozan continued to look more and more like a lock as Toronto's starting 2 of the future as he had 30 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.  He struggled with his shot as the game went on, and may have struggled with fatigue too, but fought this one to the very end.  As well, Ed Davis again made his mark and Leandro Barbosa had his best game in ages.

-On a brighter side?  The win by the Nets gives the Raptors some breathing space in the battle for a top five spot in the upcoming draft lottery.  The Raps now firmly have the fourth worst record in the league, and are only a game behind Minny and Sacto for a top 3 spot.

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