Originally published: May 4, 2014 3:58 PM
Updated: May 4, 2014 10:15 PM
TORONTO – With both hands extended and a finger on any forked skyward, Paul Pierce was beaming, and with good reason.
One of those hands had usually blocked Kyle Lowry’s intensity series-winning curtain in a line during a final buzzer, sealing a Nets’ 104-103 Game 7 feat over a Raptors — a furious finish that certainly had some during Air Canada Centre looking for a nearest oxygen tank.
After pleat a nine-point necessity with 31/2 mins remaining to one with 8.8 seconds to play, a Raptors got a round behind when a Nets’ Shaun Livingston committed a turnover with 7.9 seconds left. But Pierce’s defensive gem authorised a many costly organisation in NBA story to whisper after avoiding a hugely unsatisfactory exit from a playoffs in this deteriorate of lofty expectations.
It also set adult a new matchup drizzling in story lines. By dispatching third-seeded Toronto, a sixth-seeded Nets warranted a right to accommodate a two-time fortifying champion Heat in a Eastern Conference semifinals commencement Tuesday night during AmericanAirlines Arena.
“It felt great,” pronounced Pierce, who distinguished a impulse by hurling his sweaty wipe into a stands. “I’ve pronounced it before, it feels so many improved when we do it on a highway since we know you’ve warranted it.
“I mean, everybody is opposite you. we can’t even contend some of a things they were job me out there. To come divided with a win, it means so many some-more since we know we gave everything. You were opposite not usually a 15,000 in a building though we were opposite a other 15,000 sitting outside.
“Nobody is with you. So you’ve got this tiny organisation of guys in a locker room entertaining for one another, you’ve got 15, 16 guys, 20 guys including coaches and staff here. That’s all we’ve got in this building — 20 people who wish us to win. It feels good when we come out a leader in that form of environment.”
Still, that was no certain thing, even when a Nets went forward 97-87 with 5:38 left on a 20-footer by Joe Johnson (26 points).
A 14-5 run authorised Toronto to get within a point, and a Raptors highlighted a Nets’ porous late-game invulnerability with a span of easy layups by Lowry and Terrence Ross.
Ross’ basket done it 104-103, and when he stole Livingston’s inbounds pass and caromed it off Pierce and out of end with 7.9 seconds left, a jubilant throng of 20,457 figured a Nets were about to gift-wrap this one.
After a timeout, Lowry (28 points) attempted to scheme into a lane, though Kevin Garnett poked a round divided before Lowry regained possession and put adult a shot that Pierce rejected.
“We knew it was substantially going possibly to [DeMar] DeRozan or Kyle,” Garnett said, “and Kyle attempted to separate a defense. we usually ripped him a small bit, cut a round out of his hands, and afterwards we see Paul go over a tip for a block.”
With his left hand, too.
Pierce pronounced he couldn’t remember creation a game-sealing rejection. “Nah, we don’t consider during this magnitude,” he said. “On a road. Game 7. You’re personification for your lives and you’ve got to sell out for your team.
“I unequivocally didn’t have a good descent game. we was in tainted difficulty many of a night and infrequently you’ve got to find ways to assistance your ballclub win.
“I saw him go up, we went adult with him, got my palm on a ball. Game over.”
Now, instead of streamer home, a Nets are South Beach-bound.
“It’s good,” Deron Williams said. “It’s a good feeling. We mislaid a Game 7 final year. To be means to spin around and win a Game 7 on a highway this year means a lot for this franchise. We’re vehement about an event to play a fortifying champs.”
As Garnett said: “They’ve been sitting and they’ve been waiting, so let’s get it on.”