Raptors 99, Nets 92
As another wretched season comes to a close, the New Jersey Nets haven't stopped trying. Unfortunately, they haven't stopped losing, either.
Jerryd Bayless scored 19 points, James Johnson had a season-high 18 and the Toronto Raptors beat the Nets 99-92 on Sunday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
New Jersey trailed by as many as 21 before mounting a fourth-quarter comeback, cutting the deficit to four with less than a minute left. But they didn't have enough to beat the Raptors, who got 18 points each from DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis and 10 from Julian Wright.
''We had a such a bad first half, in every way,'' Nets coach Avery Johnson said. ''We didn't play good on either side of the ball. We weren't very good in the third quarter, either, but we put together a pretty nice fourth quarter.''
Reggie Evans had 15 rebounds for Toronto, which had lost nine of 10.
Brook Lopez had 35 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who have lost three straight and nine of 11. Sasha Vujacic, who scored 19, was the only other Nets player to reach double figures.
''We gave ourselves an opportunity and I think that's important, especially when (this is) the third-to-last game of the season and we're not checking out,'' Lopez said.
The Nets host Charlotte in their home finale on Monday night, then wrap up the season at Chicago on Wednesday.
''We're not just here to get it over with,'' Vujacic said. ''We want to compete every night.''
Vujacic, who began the season with the Los Angeles Lakers before joining New Jersey in a December trade, acknowledged it's hard not having a postseason series to look forward to.
''It's a sad feeling not being in the playoffs,'' he said. ''It hurts a little bit. But we have two more games and we can't just quit.''
Toronto led 92-76 with 5:51 play but New Jersey rallied, and a 3-pointer by Vujacic cut it to 94-87 with 2:28 remaining. Bayless answered with a driving layup to give the Raptors a nine-point lead with 2:12 to play.
Lopez was fouled on consecutive possessions and made three of four from the line before Wright missed a pair for the Raptors. New Jersey turned the ball over on an errant pass before the Raptors were called for a 24-second violation, giving the Nets one more shot inside the final minute. Lopez made a driving hook shot with 46 seconds left, cutting it to 96-92.
Lopez fouled Bayless on a drive to the basket and the Toronto guard made both, giving Toronto a six-point edge with 35 seconds to go. Vujacic missed a 3-point attempt and, after a replay review, the Raptors were granted possession. Bayless was fouled and capped it by making one more free throw.
Vujacic was upset with himself after missing an open look from long range.
''I've got to make nine out of 10 if not 10 out of 10,'' Vujacic said. ''I'm a little bit frustrated.''
Already dealing with injury problems, the Nets lost rookie Ben Uzoh early in the fourth when he slipped and bruised his right knee. Uzoh was able to stand and walk slowly to the bench, and Johnson said he could play Monday.
Guard Mario West went down clutching his left shoulder late in the fourth and had to be helped out of his jersey as he undressed in the locker room.
Both teams were without several key players. New Jersey's Deron Williams, who will undergo right wrist surgery Monday, missed his third straight game, while leading rebounder Kris Humphries (right heel, right ankle) has not played in six games and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Anthony Morrow (left knee), Damion James (right foot) and Sundiata Gaines (hip) were also absent.
Toronto dressed just nine players. Leading scorer Andrea Bargnani (right ankle) and guard Jose Calderon (left hamstring) sat for the fifth time in six games, and Leandro Barbosa (left pinky) missed his fourth straight. Amir Johnson (left ankle) was sidelined for the third straight game and Sonny Weems (right knee) was also unavailable.
DeRozan scored 14 points in the first, including two on an alley-oop pass from Bayless, as the Raptors made seven of their first eight shots to open a 31-22 lead after 12 minutes.
James Johnson had 11 points in the second and Wright came off the bench to score eight as Toronto extended its advantage, building a 61-42 lead at the half.
Bayless had nine points in the third, helping the Raptors take an 82-62 lead into the final quarter.
The Nets missed their first eight 3-point shots before Vujacic made one in the fourth.
NOTES: The Raptors outrebounded the Nets 45-31. ... Morrow is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his knee on Monday and will likely miss the remainder of the season, coach Avery Johnson said. ... The Nets signed West for the remainder of the season. ... Raptors coach Jay Triano said Amir Johnson is unlikely to play again this season. ... Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos attended the game.