Raptors 107, Nets 106
With Jose Calderon back in the lineup, the Toronto Raptors are hoping the second half of the season is a lot better than the first.
Calderon had 17 points and 11 assists and the Raptors escaped with a 107-106 victory over New Jersey on Wednesday night after Nets point guard Devin Harris missed a wide-open 16-foot jumper at the buzzer.
"We've got to be more aggressive and try to make plays for one another," said Calderon, whose return from a hamstring injury has sparked the Raptors' first three-game winning streak since the start of the season. "We need more games like tonight, where we make a good defensive play at the end. We knew we would turn this around."
The defensive play that Calderon bragged about really wasn't much of a play, simply a miss by Calderon's counterpart.
Harris got everything he wanted on the final shot, a step-back jumper from the right edge of the foul line that hit off the rim.
"That's my go-to move, I couldn't ask for anything more," said Harris, who said he hits that shot 98.6 per cent of the time.
The misfire allowed the Raptors (19-28) to inch closer to the playoff picture with 35 games left in the regular season.
"This is a momentum booster and a confidence booster," said Joey Graham, who was guarding Harris on the final shot. "We were looking for stretches of games like this during our stretch of losses. We needed these games to get us back on track, to get us back in the playoff run."
Anthony Parker added 21 points, and Chris Bosh had 18 for the Raptors, who shot almost 56 per cent and had six players in double figures. Andrea Bargnani had his streak of 15 straight games of at least 15 points stopped, scoring eight.
Vince Carter had 27 points to lead the Nets, who rallied in the final minutes by hitting four of their 15 3-pointers. Harris added 25 points and 10 assists, but he missed the biggest shot of the night after Calderon had left the door open by missing a jumper with about 21 seconds to play.
Toronto, which opened the season with three straight wins and then floundered, appeared to take control late in the fourth quarter when Graham converted a three-point play for a 102-90 lead with 4:47 to go.
Bobby Simmons, who added 16 points, then hit two three-pointers in an 11-2 spurt to bring New Jersey within 104-101.
Bosh's two free throws with 2:17 to play pushed the edge back to five points, but Parker only made one of two free throws and Carter nailed a three-pointer to close the gap to 107-104 with 1:05 to go.
Bosh drove the baseline and appeared to be fouled on a layup attempt but nothing was called.
After a time out, Harris drove the left side of the lane for a layup to get New Jersey within a point.
After Calderon missed, Harris took the ball upcourt, worked his way for an open shot and simply missed it, putting his hands to his head in disbelief at the buzzer.
"We got the stop we needed, the rebound and got down the court," Carter said. "The shot was just off to the right."
Graham added 15 points for the Raptors and Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon had 10 apiece.
Keyon Dooling had 17 points and Brook Lopez 14 for New Jersey.
Despite shooting 61 per cent from the field in the first half, the Raptors trailed 54-50. The difference for the Nets was eight three-pointers, including four by Carter in the opening four minutes, and 12 second-chances points.
Notes: Lopez was selected to play on the rookie team in the Rookie Challenge on Feb. 13 during the all-star weekend in Phoenix. ... New Jersey lost a three-pointer by Dooling at the end of the first quarter on a review. The shot beat the game clock, but it failed to beat the 24-second clock. ... The teams have split four games this season, each winning two on the other's home court.
Raptors 107, Nets 106