TORONTO – Paul Pierce found his form in the final minutes, sparking the Brooklyn Nets over the Toronto Raptors 94-87 Saturday (Sunday in the Philippines) in the opening game of their NBA first-round playoff series.
Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets took a road win to launch the best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup.
Kevin Garnett, who won an NBA crown with Pierce in Boston and joined him in being traded to Brooklyn, scored his first basket of the game with 3:38 remaining to give the Nets a 79-76 lead.
Pierce followed with a 3-pointer and the 36-year-old playmaker added a layup and a pair of jumpers, scoring nine Nets points in a row as part of a game-ending 19-11 run for the triumph.
“Just veteran experience,” Pierce said. “A lot of those moments could have gone either way. I thought I had the matchup and I took advantage of it.”
A young Raptors lineup battled back to briefly lead in the fourth quarter before Pierce’s heroics.
“I’ll use my experience and leadership to help the guys,” Pierce said. “We’re not going to get rattled. We stayed together. We stayed calm during their runs and played together down the stretch.”
Joe Johnson and Deron Williams each scored 24 points to lead the Nets.
Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 22 points while Venezuelan guard Greivis Vasquez came off the bench to score 18 for the Raptors and Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas added 17 points and a game-high 18 rebounds. – Rappler.com