Toronto reserve Norman Powell scored 12 of his 24 points in
the fourth quarter as the defending champion Raptors rallied to beat Brooklyn
104-99 Wednesday in their NBA playoff series.
The Raptors took a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven
Eastern Conference first-round clash, being played in the league’s quarantine
bubble in Orlando, Florida.
The Boston Celtics also seized a 2-0 lead in their Eastern
Conference clash with Philadelphia, shrugging off the absence of injured Gordon
Hayward to thrash the 76ers 128-101. The Raptors, who had converted 22
three-pointers in a game-one blowout of the Nets, connected on just 25.7
percent of their three-point attempts — and 43.7 percent of shots overall —
under heavy defensive pressure from a Nets team eager to even the series.
But turnovers proved crucial, with nine Toronto giveaways
leading to six Nets points while 17 Brooklyn turnovers resulted in 23 points
for the Raptors.
Brooklyn, trailing by three with 15 seconds remaining, had a
chance to force overtime but an ill-timed pass on their final possession led to
a final, decisive turnover — forced by Toronto’s Kyle Lowry — that sealed the
win for the Raptors.
“We’ve been here before,” said Toronto’s Fred
VanVleet, who delivered a double-double of 24 points and 10 assists.
“You’ve just got to stick with it, weather the storm.” Trailing 80-74
through three quarters, the Raptors opened the fourth on a 17-5 scoring run,
taking their first lead since the second period on OG Anunoby’s dunk with nine
minutes to play.
Powell extended the lead to eight points with a driving
dunk, and the Raptors held on. “It’s just about focusing on what we’ve got
to do, staying present, staying within yourself, and staying confident in your
abilities and taking what the game has given you,” Powell said. Lowry
finished with 21 points and nine rebounds and Pascal Siakam added 19 points for
the Raptors, who will try to take a 3-0 lead on Friday.
The Nets’ hopes of battling back could be hindered by the
departure from Orlando of Joe Harris, who scored 14 points with 15 rebounds
before leaving the campus for what the team called a “personal
Quarantine rules mean Harris will miss at least games three
and four of the series.
Jayson Tatum was the star for Boston, scoring 33 points in a
dominant victory. Kemba Walker added 22 points and Jaylen Brown added 20 for a
Celtics team that announced after their game one win that Hayward would be
sidelined for several weeks with a sprained ankle.
Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 34 points and 10 rebounds. In
Western Conference action, Donovan Mitchell, scored 30 points and handed out
eight assists for the Utah Jazz, who cruised to a 124-105 victory over the
Denver Nuggets that knotted their series at one game apiece. It was a sweet
reversal for Mitchell, who scored 57 points in a game-one overtime loss to the
Jazz seized control in the second quarter, using a 2-9 scoring run to open a
61-48 halftime lead. French center Rudy Gobert punctuated the half with a
put-back dunk, and there were five minutes left to play in the fourth when
Denver coach Mike Malone started looking toward Friday’s game three, pulling
starters Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Mitchell connected on 10 of 14 shots,
including six of seven from three-point range. Jordan Clarkson added 26 points
off the bench as the Jazz withstood 28-point performances from Jokic and
After the bitter overtime defeat in game one, Mitchell wasn’t
getting ahead of himself. “At the end of the day, this is one game,”
he said. “We did our job. We’ve got to get three more