Nets defeat Raptors in O2

Excited fans? Check. NBA style arena? Check.

Anything forgotten? Oh yeah, the Toronto Raptors and the New Jersey Nets.

In what was a ground breaking first for the NBA – regular season games outside of the US and Canada – the house was packed for the spectacle everyone had come to see.

Fan favourites were obvious from the player introductions:

The Raps, Bargnani and Deron Williams all drew the loudest cheers.

Opening tip was claimed by the Nets who went down low to Brook Lopez early on to great success. And despite the much talked about wrist injury Deron Williams was carrying, it didn’t appear to affect him as he drove hard to the hole time and time again.

But the early highlight was claimed by the Raptors very own Demar Derozan who flew in for the one handed dunk.

Out of a time out, Brook Lopez matched the dunk by Demar and when James Johnson of the Raptors tried it, Kris Humphries denied him with a huge block.

And it was Humphries who led the Nets to a 27-22 lead after the first quarter with 7 points and 9 rebounds.

Into the second quarter and the Raptors, with Derozan leading the bench unit held the Nets scoreless and took the lead at 33-27 with 8:48 remaining in the half.

Only when Nets coach Avery Johnson brought back Deron Williams and Anthony Morrow did any semblance of offense return and by the time the remainder of the starters checked back in, the Nets were on the road to recovery.

The Raptors kept it close behind a balanced offense from the starters and the bench unit. Whereas Avery Johnson chose to let his bench unit enter the game together, Jay Triano of the Raptors played the mix-and-match game and it worked.

A lot of breakaway dunks and lay-ins for the Raptors not only took the camera flashes away from Deron Williams shaking and baking his way to 7 first half assists, but it also meant they took the lead into the break: 51-47.

Half time thoughts: The UK fans were treated to a lot of highlights in the first half with the Raptors not letting down their fans by making it a mini dunk-a-thon.

The second half followed the first half format with Deron Williams leading the Nets charge and the Raptors getting inside looks.

The only noticeable difference was that the Nets made the Raptors shoot jump shots second half and the Raptors duly obliged hitting from inside the arc and outside.

The Raptors were given a further boost with Deron Williams picking up his 4th foul with the third quarter winding down. At the end of the third the Raptors had the lead 81-78.

Going into the fourth and without the benched Deron Williams, the Nets managed to turn up the temperature due, in no small part, to Sundiata Gaines. The former Toronto Raptor had 7 points in 6:49 minutes and paved the way for a Nets win which the starters delivered on.

Double doubles from both the Nets Humphries and Williams – 18 and 17, 16 and 11 respectively lead the way and despite the free-scoring Derozan’s 30 points, the Nets were able to see out the game to take the win 116 – 103.

Deron Williams was subbed out to a standing ovation from the UK crowd who did themselves proud with their vocal and enthusiastic support.

Follow Keith Firmin on Twitter @keiththejourno

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