NEW YORK — Toronto guard Kyle Lowry limped onto the court Sunday with the Raptors needing a victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference first-round series.
He battled a knee injury and foul trouble to lead the wounded Raptors to an 87-79 win over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center to even the series at 2-2. Game 5 is Wednesday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
“He’s dealing with a lot right now, and he came through with flying colors,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of Lowry. “He fought through foul trouble, a little bit of adversity throughout the game and still came through and gave us 22 (points). The most important thing is that he’s playing the end of the game with five fouls. It was big for us.”
Lowry sank a crucial sky hook over Nets forward Kevin Garnett with 1:13 left in the fourth quarter to give the Raptors an 85-79 lead.
“I think that was the first time (I made a sky hook) this year in a game. I did it in practice like once,” said Lowry, who also buried two free throws with 30.5 seconds remaining to put the finishing touches on the win. “It’s something I work on in the summertime, and it’s something that just happened. I came into a situation where it was needed.”
Casey added, “It was a momentum play for us. It was huge.”
Guard DeMar DeRozan scored 20 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, helping the Raptors open up a 17-point lead in the second quarter.
Later in the game he was instrumental in Toronto’s defensive game plan against Joe Johnson. The Nets guard entered the game averaging a team-high 23.7 points per game in the series, but he was double-teamed every time he touched the ball and was limited to seven points on seven shots.
“With Kyle, I knew I had to pick up the offense early, so I did that and came out aggressive,” DeRozan said. “I knew they were going to change up and start trying to get the ball out of my hands. I knew I could do some things on the defensive end, and that’s what I did, especially on Joe.”
Forward Paul Pierce had 22 points, forward Mirza Teletovic scored 12 points, guard Deron Williams had 10 points and six assists, and Garnett contributed 10 points for the Nets, who went scoreless for the final 4:57 and shot 3-for-17 in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we just got out of character,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “We were trying to do it individually instead of making a play for our teammate. They picked up a couple of charges, we missed a couple shots we made in the past. We’ll go back and look at how we can get better.”
Casey, meanwhile, lauded his team’s defensive play down the stretch, highlighting the Raptors’ eight consecutive stops, including a pair of charges drawn by DeRozan. The Nets were called for three straight offensive fouls in the final three minutes.
“I thought DeMar did a good job of really holding his spot, holding his position in the post and really turning it over defensively when they were taking him out offensively,” Casey said.
The Nets, meanwhile, were out of sorts offensively, getting away from their game plan and rushing shots late. Pierce, though, isn’t concerned heading back to Toronto.
“I think it’s just an attitude adjustment,” Pierce said. “Doing it faster, doing it harder and doing it better. The game plan is there. We just have to do it a lot better.”
NOTES: Nets G Joe Johnson is one of two players in the playoffs who is shooting 50 percent or better from the field with a minimum of 12 field-goal attempts. Miami F LeBron James is the other. Johnson also was 15-for-15 from the foul line before missing two of four attempts Sunday. … The Nets had an NBA-playoff-low 31 turnovers through three games. Brooklyn gave the ball away 16 times in Game 4. … Nets G Deron Williams made just four of 12 shots Sunday, and he missed all five of his 3-point attempts. … Only two reserves scored for Toronto. F Patrick Patterson and G Greivis Vasquez each finished with nine points.
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