Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) shoots over Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett (2) in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
TORONTO - The Brooklyn Nets survived a frantic final push by Toronto on Sunday, edging the Raptors 104-103 to reach the second round of the NBA playoffs.
The Nets won the best-of-seven Eastern conference series four games to three to earn a shot at two-time defending champions Miami in the second round.
But it came down to the final second, when Brooklyn's Paul Pierce managed to block Raptors guard Kyle Lowry's potential game-winning jump shot to preserve the one-point margin.
"Lowry, we knew he was going to get to the hole," Pierce said. "There was a scramble for the ball. I saw him go up, I went up for the block.
"Clean block at the end, it was a great playoff series," Pierce added of the drama-filled seven-game set.
The Nets forced the deciding game seven with a 97-83 victory in Brooklyn on Friday.
On Sunday they finished the job, advancing in the post-season for the first time since they beat the Raptors in 2007.
The Nets had led by 10 points with less than six minutes remaining and by seven with 2:04 to play.
But the Raptors, cheered on by a manic home crowd, cut the deficit to one with 8.8 seconds left on a driving layup by Terrence Ross.
Ross then stole Shaun Livingston's inbounds pass. Heading out of bounds himself, he managed to throw the ball against Pierce's leg before he came down so that the ball went out off of Pierce to make it Toronto's ball with 6.2 seconds on the clock.
Lowry was triple-teamed at the top of the key and Brooklyn's Kevin Garnett almost got the ball away from him. Lowry recovered in the lane, but as he rose for a shot Pierce rose too and batted the ball away.
"They're a grind it out team," Pierce said of Toronto's furious comeback bid. "They have so many fourth-quarter comebacks.
"I just think we have to do a better job defending," said Pierce, adding: "This was a great, great series. I'm glad to be a part of it."
Joe Johnson led the Nets with 26 points. Garnett added 12 points and 11 rebounds and Marcus Thornton contributed 17 points off the bench for Brooklyn.
Lowry finished with 28 points to lead the Raptors.
The game was among a record five game sevens in the opening round of the playoffs.
The total already matches the NBA record for the most seventh games in all rounds in any playoff year.
LeBron James and the Heat will host the Nets in game one of their series on Tuesday.
Brooklyn swept the four regular season meetings against the two-time defending champions, though all were decided by a single point.
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