Good news prior to this one. Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon both game time decisions would in fact suit up and start. That was good news for a Raptor team that struggled badly without both against a very good Chicago team. The Nets although improved from last year which was not hard to do. They still are a brutal road team and this one was of course at the ACC. Also not only were Andrea and Jose back but Linas Klezia was back in the starting line-up. Sonny Weems did not play due to a sore lower back.
Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani both went of to acknowledge their former coach. They are the only 2 players that remain from when Mitchell coached here. That really shows you the amount of change this franchise has been through. Game started out with the Nets and Raptors trading hoops, then some sloppy turnovers by the Raptors, but the Nets were not taking advantage of them as much as they could have up 8-4. Raptors would go on a run from there with Jose dropping a couple dimes as part of a 6-0 mini-run to take the lead 10-8. Ed Davis checked in as Amir had 2 early fouls giving Davis some early minutes. Devin Harris with the blow by and Ed Davis was not there on the help and easy lay-up and Nets were now on top 15-12. Former Raptor Kris Humphries helped out his old club going just 2-4 from line as he was fouled on back to back possessions. Raptors were in a bit of a nip and tuck battle with the Nets early on. Nets would take a 23-21 lead to the 2nd quarter.
Nets came out and scored first 4 points of the second to get a 6 point lead. Both teams were finding it a challenge to score, not because either team was playing great defence necessarily. As Sam Mitchell might say, they were missing a lot of shots. But New Jersey was getting to the line and had got the advantage back to 5 with score 35-30. A crazy sequence of volleyball like action would eventually lead to a easy Andrea Bargnani lay-up that actually took at lot of effort to get to that point. Jose Calderon would later hook up Amir for an easy 2 but Nets were still out in front. Nets after that bucket would get a small burst and up the lead up to 7. Harris missed a chip shot and Raps would find a wide open Barbosa for the uncontested lay-up in transition. Raptors were labouring to score with just 38 points with 2 minutes to play in the half and the Nets lead had grown to 8. A total blown coverage allows Demar DeRozan a clear runway to the basket and he is more than happy to take flight for the throw down. In end of it Raptors were down a half dozen at the break 48-42.
Raps came out with some pep in their step and scored the first 5 points of the half. Klezia would make it back to back 3's to tie the game at 50. An early and bad foul on Amir Johnson would send Outlaw to the line for 3 and that was 3rd foul on Amir. Outlaw made all 3 at the line and Jersey was on a 7-0 run and led 57-50. Raps were speeding up the pace and got to within 3 until Kris Humphries cut down the lane and Kaboom...Nets led 61-56. However, Hump would commit a turnover and then fouled Demar DeRozan. Raps were left down 2. Bargnani with a rare poster making slam would tie the game at 61 and get a huge pop from the crowd. Bargnani had 10 in the quarter and was looking really good at this point in the 3rd. But the Nets, on what was a 2nd night of a back to back for them, were scrappy and build back a 4 point lead 67-63. Amir Johnson's foul troubles continued and that got Joey Dorsey some PT as Amir would sit with 4 fouls. Raps were just struggling and a DeRozan attempt from 3 was not going change that. That miss would lead to a easy lay-up for THE MACHINE that is Vujacic. Nets were taking to many shots at Raptors were inviting them to take long range jumpers by playing zone and Nets were happy to accommodate them. It led to the Raptors tying the game at 69. Devin Harris a fade away jumper would nose the Nets in front 71-69 after 3.
Bargnani was looking healthy and get this the drive and score which Andrea can do, but also taking one on other end on the numbers. Bargs would score again and give Raps first lead since the 1st Quarter. It would be short lived as Farmar made 1st three pointer of night for the Nets who had been 0-8 prior to that. Farmar would hit another 3 and then a slam on a steal and Raps called the time out with score 79-73. A rebound for Kleiza out of time out gave him a double double with 14 points and 10 boards at the time. But more importantly the rebound would lead to an Andrea 3. It was part of a 7-0 run out of time out that left Raps up 1...80-79. Harris would give Nets lead back briefly but a Klezia 3 would change that and a steal led to a Barbosa bucket, Raptors on the strength of a 12-2 run had 85-81 lead. Andrea Bargnani was laying the smack down on Kris Humphries a guy that Andrea knows he can beat from old days? Whatever it was Andre has ZERO fear of Hump and was taking it to him. Raptors now had an 8 point edge with 4 and change to play. Raps looked like the team that had the energy and it was showing. Amir Johnson fouls out with 3:34 to play a tough night for him in foul trouble the whole night long.
Raptors shooting got a little chilly and Nets had pulled back to make this a 4 point game with under 3 to play. Brook Lopez was at the line and made 1 of 2 and the lead was down to 3. on the other end Demar would get himself to the line and he would also split a pair leaving us at 90-86. On defence double D looked to draw a charge but no luck and Lopez was back at the line and made both this time. A 2 point ballgame as Raps lead 90-88. Bargnani took advantage of a switch and nailed jumper over Harris. Hump a bucket on the other end and a huge rebound and it was the Nets ball again down just 2. Outlaw an airball and Sasha a miss...Bargnani the big board with under a minute to play. Time out Raptors need a basket and they get an major way from Demar DeRozan with the HUGE THROW DOWN!!! Lopez would score, another time out and Barbosa the 3 off the kick out from Bargs and TURN OUT THE LIGHTS PARTY IS OVER. Raptors were going to take a win home on a Friday night at ACC.
It was not the Young Onez so much at the International ones on this night. Bargnani (32 points 9 Rebounds) , Calderon (15 points and 14 Assists) and Klezia (18 Points and 12 Rebounds) were all outstanding. Bargnani the most of that group. He was a true game time decision as even when Jay Triano talked to media pre-game he still could not confirm if Bargnani would play. Jose did an excellent job running the offence and was not a liability on D on many occasions that I can recall. While Klezia gets the surprise start and makes the most off it. At times it wasn't pretty but the Raptors will take the win and not worry about the style points. They closed the show with a bang and that is what counts. Make the final Raptors 98 Nets 92. That makes it 6 straight vs the Nets overall and Raptors our .500 at home with 7 up and 7 down.