Raptors hope to knot things up with Brooklyn

( - The Toronto Raptors will try to even their series with the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night when the two sides clash at Air Canada Centre.

The more-experienced Nets took Game 1 in Toronto on Saturday afternoon, 94-87.

Paul Pierce showed exactly why the Nets acquired him in the offseason from the Boston Celtics. The future Hall of Famer and former NBA champion with the Celtics scored nine of his 15 points in the final three minutes, part of a 19-11 game-ending run that put away the upstart Raptors in their first playoff game since 2008.

Joe Johnson and Deron Williams contributed 24 points apiece to help Brooklyn draw first blood in a contentious series that became more heated after Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri made disparaging remarks towards the Nets during a pregame rally outside Air Canada Centre.

"They're going to come out a lot harder than in Game 1," said Pierce. "The crowd is going to be a lot louder than in Game 1. We have to understand how hard it is to win in another building two times in a row in the playoffs. We have to come with that mentality, nothing less."

Ujiri shouted "F--- Brooklyn" while delivering a fiery speech to a large crowd camped outside the Raptors' arena prior to the contest, and the tension was evident as well in a physical game that owned only a one-point differential before the battle-tested Nets got the better of the final five minutes.

Ujiri was fined $25,000 for the outburst.

The third-seeded and Atlantic Division champion Raptors received 22 points and eight assists from Kyle Lowry and a 17-point, 18-rebound effort out of Jonas Valanciunas, but shot just 39.4 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers.

DeMar DeRozan, Toronto's leading scorer during the regular season, finished with 14 points but went 3-of-13 from the floor.

"I thought we played a little bit as expected, as it is our first playoff game," said Toronto head coach Dwane Casey. "We got the kinks out of the playoff atmosphere, now we have to go back and clean up the 19 turnovers."

Johnson started a pivotal 7-0 run with a runner that gave Brooklyn a 77-76 edge and Kevin Garnett knocked down his only basket of the day shortly afterward before Pierce's 3-pointer with 2:58 to go left the Nets up by six and Toronto reeling.

Pierce delivered two more clutch shots in the closing stages, the first a baseline jumper out of a timeout for an 86-78 advantage with 1:32 remaining. After a Greivis Vasquez 3-pointer got the Raptors back within five, Pierce landed a spinning runner from the foul line that all but iced the game with 51.9 seconds on the clock.

"We talked all season about what the six-minute mark means to our team and how we feel the veteran guys making plays for one another and sharing the ball," said Nets head coach Jason Kidd. "Tonight was a perfect of example of that with Deron and Joe playing in the pick-and-roll and Paul taking advantage."

Game 3 will be in Brooklyn on Friday night.