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Nets 94, Raptors 87

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TORONTO — Guard Deron Williams and forward Joe Johnson each scored 24 points on Saturday as the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Toronto Raptors, 94-87, in the opening game of an NBA first-round playoff series.

Veteran forward Paul Pierce scored nine points in the final three minutes of the game for the Nets and finished with 15.

Johnson also grabbed eight rebounds as did center Kevin Garnett, and guard Shaun Livingston chipped in with 10 point points for Brooklyn.

Guard Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 22 points, while guard Greivis Vasquez added 18. Center Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 18 rebounds for the Raptors, and guard DeMar DeRozan chipped in with 14 points.

The Raptors, who trailed by five points entering the fourth quarter, tied the game on five straight points by forward Patrick Patterson, who hit a 3-pointer and a running slam dunk.

The Nets pulled ahead by four only to have the Raptors tie it again, 73-73, with 6:25 left.

The teams exchanged the lead before Garnett hit on a fadeaway shot and Pierce added a 3-pointer gave the Nets a six-point lead with 2:57 to play.

Valanciunas cut the lead to four and Pierce got it back to six and then scored again to make the lead eight points before Vasquez hit a 3-point shot.

But Pierce scored again to give the Nets a seven-point lead with 51.5 seconds to play. Lowry cut the lead to five with a layup, but Williams made two free throws with 22.7 seconds remaining to restore the seven-point lead.

Valanciunas cut it to five again before Johnson made two free throws with 13.7 seconds to play. DeRozan scored for the Raptors but Johnson made two more free throws to clinch the victory.

The Nets entered the third quarter leading by four points, but the Raptors took a 51-50 lead on a 3-pointer by forward Terrence Ross.

Johnson’s jump shot with 6:36 to play in the third restored Brooklyn’s four-point lead.

There was a delay of several minutes because of a shot-clock malfunction. When play resumed, with the time remaining on the shot clock relayed by the public address announcer, Johnson scored to put Nets into a six-point lead.

The Nets extended the lead to eight before Lowry beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer that cut the Nets’ lead to 67-62 after three quarters.

The Raptors, who entered the second quarter trailing by eight points, tied the game, 35-35, with 8:23 to play in the half when Vasquez made three free throws.

The Nets regained the lead on a floating jumper by Williams, who scored 18 points in the first half, and took a 50-46 lead into intermission. Lowry led Toronto with 15 points in the first half.

The Nets took a 29-21 lead out of the first quarter after using a 14-2 surge to lead by as many as 12 points.

NOTES: The Raptors and Nets split their four-game regular season series, with each team winning once on the road. … This is the second time the Raptors have opened a playoff series at home. The other time was in 2007, when they opened against the New Jersey Nets, who won the series 4-2. … The Nets lost four of their final five games of the season and the team’s regulars were rested in a 29-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the final game on Wednesday. Brooklyn dropped from fifth to sixth in the Eastern Conference and avoided playing the fourth-seeded Chicago Bulls, and instead were matched with third-seeded Toronto. … Game 2 of the series will be played at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night before the series moves to Brooklyn for games Friday and Sunday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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