Deron Williams had a key mistake at the end to cost the Nets a win. Credit: Getty Images
With no timeouts, Deron Williams just had to successfully inbound the ball with 10.9 seconds remaining to draw a foul and pad a one-point lead.
Williams did not, and in a flash, Patrick Patterson hit the game-winning jumper with six seconds left and the Nets saw their five-game winning streak and seven-game run at home end with a disappointing 104-103 loss to the first-place Raptors Monday night.
With a chance to get within a half-game of the Raptors, the Nets used their last timeout after John Salmons hit a driving layup that cut their lead to 103-102 with 12 seconds left. Williams had multiple options but when everyone else seemed to be guarded, he elected to throw it to Joe Johnson in the backcourt.
“Pretty much everyone was covered,” Williams said. “I kind of saw Joe open; it was a bad pass.”
“That’s one of the options,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “We tried to spread them out and D-Will has the ball to make the decision on who he’s going to go to and he gave the ball to Joe.”
The pass was intercepted by Patterson, who then handed it off to Lowry.
Once Patterson had position on the right wing, Lowry passed him the ball and he made the game-winning 12-footer as Williams tried to defend him. Paul Pierce missed a desperation heave with two-tenths of a second remaining to give the Raptors a win in an unlikely matchup for Atlantic Division supremacy given the preseason expectations for both teams.
“Pretty much coach drew up a couple of plays that he thought they were going to run and they wanted me to be out by the half court and whoever ran in that direction I would take,” Patterson said. “Luckily I was in the right place and right time.”
The Nets lost for the second time in 12 games before a tough weekend back-to-back at home against Oklahoma City and at Indiana.
Both losses have been on the second night of back-to-backs following emotional wins. The Nets were handed a 16-point loss on Jan. 11 after reaching Toronto at 5 a.m after a double-overtime win over Miami and this defeat came 24 hours after the emotional returns of Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Boston.
“It’s very disappointing, especially when we had the game in hand,” Johnson said.
To even reach the point of needing a successful inbounds was due to the fact they couldn’t expand a four-point lead. The Nets were up 100-96 with 2:32 left when Pierce hit a wide-open 3-pointer but on their next three possessions Garnett missed a lay-up with 1:22 left and a 16-footer with 56.9 left and Williams had a pass intercepted by Lowry.
The only offense the Nets could get after taking the four-point lead were two free throws by Pierce, whose season-high 33 points were an afterthought because of the tough loss.
“This was a big game for us,” Williams. “It’s definitely a tough loss with how it ended for me and the team.”
“I don’t think we played as well as we can but for the most part we made plays when we had to and the game ended with them making a play and winning the game,” Garnett said.
The Nets struggled with pick-and-rolls and interior defense early, trailed by 10 in the first quarter and then battled with officials when Pierce and Garnett were called for technical fouls by Tony Brothers.
Still they came back from a 94-85 deficit with an impressive five-minute defensive stretch when Toronto missed six straight shots and committed two turnovers.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win,” Pierce said. “Sometimes that’s all you can ask for. We just didn’t execute down the stretch.”
“It is hurtful,” Andrei Kirilenko said. “But again, it’s a game. Those situations like it happened at the end of the game, it’s one every, I don’t know, every 200 games. It’s just unfortunate [it happened tonight].”