RECAP: Raptors down Nets as Kevin Durant saga takes center stage

Feb 5, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets power forward Kevin Durant (7) tries to keep a ball in bounds against Toronto Raptors small forward DeAndre’ Bembry (95) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Pascal Siakam scored a season-high 33 points Friday night and the visiting Toronto Raptors posted a 123-117 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, who saw star Kevin Durant exit du to health and safety protocols.

Kyle Lowry added a season-high 30 points for the Raptors.

Siakam added 11 rebounds and six assists while shooting 12 of 23 from the floor as the Raptors won for the eighth time in 12 games. His layup with 35.8 seconds remaining gave the Raptors a 121-113 lead and essentially sealed the game.

Lowry made 12 of 18 shots and tied a season best with six 3-pointers. His final two 3-pointers started Toronto’s game-ending 15-7 run over the last 3:45.

While Siakam and Lowry’s big nights helped the Raptors in a game they led most of the way, the big story was Durant being held out of the starting lineup and ultimately getting pulled.

Durant was pulled from the starting lineup shortly before the opening tip and scored eight points in 19 minutes before he was forced to leave midway through the third. During the fourth quarter, he tweeted “Free Me” and ESPN reported Durant will not travel for Saturday’s game in Philadelphia.

Joe Harris led the Nets with 19 points and James Harden added 17. Kyrie Irving and Jeff Green added 15 each for Brooklyn, which shot 48.8 percent.

Toronto scored 17 fast-break points, 24 points in the paint and shot 50.0 percent to get a 34-23 lead after the opening quarter. The Raptors expanded their advantage to 44-27 when DeAndre’ Bembry stole the ball from Harden and coasted in for a dunk less than two minutes into the second quarter.

Brooklyn made 12 of its final 16 shots of the first half and outscored Toronto 36-23 to get within 67-63 by halftime. A 3-pointer by Harris gave the Nets their first lead at 68-67 with 9:45 left in the third and less than a minute later, the Nets announced Durant was out for the rest of the game and during the fourth quarter he tweeted “Free Me.”

After Brooklyn held a six-point lead with about 6 1/2 minutes left, Toronto held a 92-90 lead into the fourth on Siakam’s fadeaway right before the buzzer.

–Field Level Media