TORONTO — Forward Joe Johnson scored 26 points — 13 in the fourth quarter — and the Brooklyn Nets held on to defeat the Toronto Raptors 104-103 on Sunday in Game 7 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
The Nets who led by as many as 12 points had to withstand a Toronto rally and blocked a last-second attempt to advance to the second round. The Nets play the Miami Heat in the next round.
Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, who scored 28 points with seven rebounds and three assists, cut the Nets’ lead to one with a driving bank shot with 16.7 seconds to play.
Nets guard Shaun Livingston, who finished with 10 points, made two free throws with 13.2 seconds to play to put the Nets ahead by three points.
The margin was back to one after forward Terrence Ross, who had 11 points, made a driving layup. The Raptors took possession on a turnover with 6.2 seconds left, but Lowry had his attempt blocked at the buzzer.
Reserve guard Marcus Thornton added 17 points for the Nets, guard Deron Williams had 13, center Kevin Garnett added 12 points and 11 rebounds and forward Paul Pierce had 10.
Raptors forward Amir Johnson scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds before fouling out with 7:53 left in the game.
Guard DeMar DeRozan added 18 points for the Raptors and reserve forward Patrick Patterson had 16.
The Nets entered the fourth quarter with an eight-point advantage.
Johnson’s 3-pointer midway through the fourth bumped the lead to 10 points. After DeRozan trimmed the lead to eight again, Williams made one of two free throws with 4:12 to play. DeRozan was called for an offensive foul to negate an apparent field goal.
Johnson missed the free throw on a technical foul called against DeRozan on the play. Lowry made both free throws after center/forward Andray Blatche was called for his fifth foul with 3:16 to play. Lowry made a jumper to cut the lead to five. Johnson responded with two minutes left.
Patterson cut the lead to five. Williams hit one of two foul shots for a six-point margin. Patterson’s two free throws cut the lead to four. With 25 seconds left, Lowry made two free throws and the Nets led by two. Williams hit one of two free throws with 22.5 seconds left for a three-point Brooklyn lead.
Brooklyn took an eight-point lead into the third quarter had it up to 12 when Williams converted both free throws after Johnson was charged with his fifth foul. Lowry’s driving layup cut the lead to six nearly six minutes into the third. Blatche restored the 12-point margin with a layup three minutes later. DeRozan hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the Nets’ lead to 81-73 after three quarters.
The Nets took a 61-53 lead into the intermission with Thornton contributing 14 points while Johnson led Toronto with 18 first-half points. The Raptors led 28-26 after the first quarter.
NOTES: Raptors coach Dwane Casey, who was stuck in traffic because of road closures for a marathon, opted to take the subway to Air Canada Centre for Sunday’s game. He was recognized by Raptors fans. “They just said, ‘Go get ’em.'” … Nets players entered Sunday having appeared in a Game 7 for a combined total of 27 games while Raptors players had combined for seven Game 7 appearances. … The Nets were playing in the third Game 7 in team history and the second in two years, having lost last season to the Chicago Bulls in the deciding game of their first-round series. The Nets also lost to the Detroit Pistons in Game 7 of the 2004 Eastern Conference semifinals. … The Raptors lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2001 Eastern semifinals in their only previous Game 7.
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