TORONTO – The Brooklyn Nets are one game away from having their season end. Don’t think for a second they are done.
If they didn’t fold Wednesday night in Air Canada Centre, when they fell behind the Toronto Raptors by 26 points with less than 16 minutes left, they will not go quietly into the night on Friday in Barclays Center.
The Nets almost pulled off the most incredible playoff comeback in franchise history before losing 115-113. Every bit of the Nets' playoff experience and grit came through in the final 15 minutes and 29 seconds.
Joe Johnson, the most unstoppable force in this series for Brooklyn, brought the Nets all the way back. His 3-pointer with 3:18 left tied the score at 101-101. The Raptors led 85-59 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
It was tied again at 106-106 with 1:03 left before Kyle Lowry (36 points) scored five straight. Johnson led the Nets with 30.
Andray Blatche made the first of two free throws with 4.9 seconds left to make it 115-113. He missed the second but the Nets got the offensive rebound only to commit a backcourt violation with one second left.
“The guys fought,’’ said Kidd. “We put ourselves in position to have a chance to win on the road. The guys fought, so we can build on that.’’
The Nets scored a playoff franchise-record 44 points in the fourth quarter. It was a valiant effort.
“They used their veteran experience to get back into the game,’’ said Toronto coach Dwane Casey.
Despite the remarkable comeback, the bottom line is the Nets find themselves in a position they never expected: facing a first-round exit from the playoffs.
The Nets went into this series with vastly more playoff experience than the Raptors. The Brooklyn roster is comprised of players with 417 starts coming into this series.
They went in believing they are a legitimate threat to win the Eastern Conference.
Late in the season, BrooklynNets.com sat down with coach Jason Kidd and asked him what would constitute a successful season if the Nets didn’t win the NBA title.
“Whenever this ends, this journey ends, I look at those guys and they’re exhausted,’’ said Kidd. “That’s the sign of success; that they left everything they had.
“And I’ve been in that situation on different teams. The playoffs, the team that you played, they’re a better team or they were better in that series, but you’re exhausted and you’ve given everything you had.’’
The Nets gave it almost all they had in the final 15:29. Friday night they’ll have to give more.