This afternoon the Brooklyn Nets showed the Toronto Raptors what they’re missing: Elite shot makers. Kevin Durant carried the Nets offense for the first three quarters, dropping 29 points en route to 31 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists, and then James Harden took over the final period, dropping 16 of his 29 points. He also finished with 10 rebounds and eight assists tonight.
The Raptors had the Nets on the ropes in the first half, as they had a seven-point lead and the momentum at their side. They forced the Nets to cough up the ball left and right in the first half, leading to easy transition buckets. Pascal Siakam made his season debut, posting a 15-point, four-rebounds, and two-block stat line on what appears to be a 25-minute restriction.
Fred VanVleet led the way for the Raptors with 21 points and eight assists, but the team struggled to shoot from the perimeter, hitting a paltry 7-for-30 compared to the Nets’ 17-for-38. OG Anunoby had a quiet and inefficient night of 16 points (on 7-for-16 shooting) and eight rebounds. Precious Achiuwa looked good off the bench, dropping 13 points and 8 rebounds. Scottie Barnes filled the stat sheet for the Raptors tonight, going for 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals, while picking up Durant and Harden full court:
35 seconds of Scottie Barnes raising hell on Kevin Durant and James Harden pic.twitter.com/d8mY8i9cxZ— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) November 7, 2021
The Nets cracked the game open in the third quarter, as they would quickly erase the Raptors’ halftime lead on a 24-7 run to start the second half. Perhaps the Raptors’ offensive futility in the half-court affected their performance on the defensive end, as there was a lot of miscommunication and poor effort on display. In the second half, Gary Trent Jr’s 12 points were not enough against the humming Nets’ offense, but he probably had his best assist as a Raptor, when he found Siakam cutting under the basket. Unfortunately, I can’t find any clips, so I can’t confirm if the pass happened.
Siakam would get his first touch early on the game against Joe Harris at the post but chose not to force it. The Raptors’ offense appeared to be off to a good start, as VanVleet hit Anunoby with an improbable pass for a dunk, and Anunoby returned the favour finding VanVleet on the perimeter for a trifecta. However, Durant started to take over for the Nets, as he racked up 10 points while going against an assortment of long defenders.
Siakam made his first shot of the season when he nailed a top-of-the-key three-pointer off a nice set play, but he would be a casualty of Durant’s onslaught at the elbow, as he picked up his second foul five minutes into the game. The Raptors’ poor shooting from the perimeter was their Achilles heel in the quarter, as Anunoby channelling “mid-range Kawhi” kept the Nets within striking distance.
Birthday boy Dalano Banton provided the spark in the second quarter for the Raptors, as he completed an and-1 and set up Siakam for a transition layup the following play. The Raptors would go on an 11-2 run to capitalize on the Nets’ mistakes. Harden tried to keep the Nets in the game, pouring in six points, but the Raptors’ defense forced the Nets to commit turnover after turnover, which led to fastbreak points, including the casual dunk from Barnes below.
Jheeez... Scottie really said 'GIMMIE DAT' pic.twitter.com/MkrnYDFYzr— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 7, 2021
The Raptors opened the second half sluggish, shooting 0-4 from the field, but more importantly, looking discombobulated on defense. The Nets took advantage, going on a 9-0 run to take the lead at 62-60, soon stretching the lead 77-67.
The Raptors responded with their 8-0 run behind Gary Trent Jr, cutting the lead to two. However, Durant would have none of that as the Nets and led the Nets an 11-2 run to close the quarter with an 88-77 lead.
Barnes opened up their first possession in the final frame with a nice setup to Svi Mykhailiuk, as they finally made a three-pointer after missing them for what it felt like an eternity. However, the Raptors’ defense regressed as the Nets picked apart their aggressive help scheme. Siakam and VanVleet would combine for eight points to cut the lead to seven, but the Nets were just able to get whatever they wanted offensively, and they just did enough to keep the Raptors within arms-length for the rest of the game.
Up next: The Raptors get a three-day rest before playing the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden on Wednesday.