Williams scores 24 in Nets’ win
The Associated Press
TORONTO — The Brooklyn Nets made a case for the important of playoff experience in their opening victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each had 24 points, Paul Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the final quarter and the Nets beat the Raptors 94-87 Saturday in Game 1 of their first round series.
Playing in his 137th career postseason game, Pierce connected on four of his five shot attempts in the fourth as the Nets kept the Raptors at bay.
“You just get that feeling, you’ve been in those situations a number of times,” Pierce said. “I don’t get rattled in the fourth quarter, down the stretch or in playoff settings. I’ve been in pretty much every playoff setting that you can imagine. I just try to stay calm and bring my calmness to the game.”
Nets coach Jason Kidd said Williams “set the tone” by scoring 18 points in the first half.
“He came out with high energy,” Kidd said. “I thought he was looking to be aggressive in scoring the ball. He got the guys off to a good start.”
Shaun Livingston scored 10 points and Kevin Garnett had five as the Nets won despite making 4 of 24 3-pointers.
“We didn’t shoot well from 3 tonight but we made up for that by taking care of the ball, good defense down the stretch, making plays offensively,” Williams said. “That’s why we got the win.”
The Nets turned the ball over nine times, while the Raptors had 19, leading to 17 Brooklyn points.
“That was the biggest issue,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.
Kyle Lowry scored 22 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 18 rebounds for the Raptors.
Valanciunas is the second Raptors player to have a double-double in his postseason debut. Tracy McGrady had 25 points and 10 rebounds against New York in his first playoff game in 2000.
“He grew up today and that was huge for us,” Casey said.
Valanciunas also set a Raptors record for playoff rebounds by surpassing Keon Clark, who had 16 against Detroit in 2002.