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Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, left, looks down as Raptors global ambassador Drake, second from left, looks on while playing against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half of Game 7 of the opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Toronto, Sunday, May 4, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
NBA: Paul Pierce’s block leads Nets past Raptors 104-103

Paul Pierce blocks Kyle Lowry’s shot at buzzer as Brooklyn wins dramatic Game 7 in Toronto.

First Published May 04 2014 02:36 pm • Last Updated May 04 2014 11:18 pm

Toronto • Slowed by foul trouble and struggling with his shot, Paul Pierce still found a way to come up big for the Brooklyn Nets.

And, right when they needed him most.

At a glance

Nets 104, Raptors 103

Brooklyn 26 35 20 23 — 104

Toronto 28 25 20 30 — 103

BROOKLYN (104)

J.Johnson 11-25 3-5 26, Pierce 4-10 0-0 10, Garnett 5-8 2-3 12, Williams 3-8 7-10 13, Anderson 2-6 0-0 5, Blatche 4-7 1-2 9, Thornton 4-8 5-6 17, Kirilenko 0-0 0-0 0, Plumlee 0-1 2-2 2, Livingston 4-5 2-2 10, Teletovic 0-3 0-0 0.

Totals 37-81 22-30 104.

TORONTO (103)

Ross 5-12 1-3 11, A.Johnson 9-12 2-2 20, Valanciunas 1-5 1-1 3, Lowry 7-19 12-14 28, DeRozan 5-12 7-7 18, Patterson 5-5 6-6 16, Vasquez 1-3 0-0 2, Salmons 1-3 0-0 3, Fields 0-0 0-0 0, Hayes 1-2 0-0 2.

Totals 35-73 29-33 103.

3-Point Goals—Brooklyn 8-23 (Thornton 4-6, Pierce 2-4, Anderson 1-4, J.Johnson 1-5, Williams 0-1, Teletovic 0-3), Toronto 4-13 (Lowry 2-4, DeRozan 1-2, Salmons 1-3, Vasquez 0-1, Ross 0-3). Fouled Out—A.Johnson. Rebounds—Brooklyn 51 (Garnett 11), Toronto 43 (A.Johnson 10). Assists—Brooklyn 16 (Williams, J.Johnson 4), Toronto 13 (DeRozan 6). Total Fouls—Brooklyn 26, Toronto 27. Technicals—Garnett, DeRozan. A—20,457 (19,800).

Second-round series set to tip off

Monday

Washington at Indiana, 5 p.m., TNT

L.A. Clippers at Okla. City, 7:30 p.m., TNT

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Pierce blocked Kyle Lowry’s shot from the lane on the final play of the game, and the Nets held off the Toronto Raptors 104-103 in Game 7 on Sunday to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," Pierce said. "I saw him split the defenders, I saw him go up, I went up with him.

"I got my hand on the ball — game over."

The Nets will begin the conference semifinals at Miami on Tuesday night, facing the two-time defending NBA champion Heat.

Pierce had more fouls [three] than points [none] in the second half, but his only block of the game punctuated a hard-fought series win for the Nets.

Leading by one, Brooklyn used its final timeout after failing to inbound the ball. On the second opportunity, Shaun Livingston tried a lob pass to Pierce, but Terrence Ross got a hand on the ball and then knocked it off Pierce and out of bounds for a turnover.

"I rushed it a little bit," Livingston said. "I’m thinking Paul is going to hold him off. He kind of slipped there. Once he slipped, it was a jump ball and Terrence Ross is probably the last guy you want to throw a jump ball to."

Toronto used a timeout and gave the ball to Lowry, whose driving shot was blocked by Pierce as time expired. Lowry lay prone in the key as the Nets surged onto the court in celebration.


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"I really didn’t have a great offensive game," Pierce said. "I was in foul trouble for most of the night. Sometimes you’ve got to find ways to help your ballclub win."

Nets coach Jason Kidd said Brooklyn’s defense "bent a little" but didn’t break, thanks mostly to Pierce’s clutch play.

"Paul said it best, that’s why he’s here, to make plays," Kidd said. "He didn’t have a great game, but it only takes one play to help a team win and that’s what he did tonight."

Brooklyn went 4-0 against Miami in the regular season, but that didn’t mean much to Brooklyn’s Kevin Garnett.

"That goes out the window," he said. "This is the postseason. They’re playing very well. They went right through Charlotte without a beat and they have a lot of confidence."

Joe Johnson scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Nets. Marcus Thornton scored 17, Garnett had 12 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the series, and Deron Williams added 13 points.

"Joe has kept us alive this whole series," Garnett said.

Amir Johnson fouled out with 20 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto, which trailed by 10 with just over six minutes remaining before storming back and having a chance to win it at the buzzer.

"They pushed us to the brink," Livingston said.

Lowry finished with 28 points and DeMar DeRozan 18 for the Raptors, who fell to 0-2 in franchise history when playing in a Game 7. Toronto lost Game 7 of the conference semifinals to Philadelphia in 2001.

"We were right there," said a rueful Raptors coach Dwane Casey.

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