Thaddeus Young helps Nets top Raptors, win 6th straight

By on April 4, 2015


Published: Friday, April 3, 2015, 10:26 PM

Updated: Saturday, April 4, 2015, 1:09 AM

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Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey didn’t hesitate.

Asked before Friday’s game with the Nets at Barclays Center what was responsible for Brooklyn’s sudden turnaround, Casey looked up and said two words: “Thad Young.”

It’s become a common refrain for people trying to figure out these incomprehensible Nets.

Lionel Hollins seems to mention Young — acquired from Minnesota for Kevin Garnett before the February trade deadline — as often as he does the team’s next opponent in rationalizing the team’s reversal. And after Friday night’s thrilling 114-109 win over the Raptors in which Young matched a season-high with 29 points, including a tip-in in the final seconds that allowed the Nets to win their sixth straight and tighten their grip on a playoff spot, Young’s name was on the tip of a lot of lips.

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Thaddeus Young lays in two of his 29 points to help seventh-place Nets defeat Raptors at Barclays Center and move a full game ahead of Heat in playoff race.

The Nets were paced by Deron Williams’ season-high 31 points — including 13 in the third quarter when a ref’s no-call fired him up — and 11 assists and Brook Lopez’s 30 points and 17 rebounds.

The Raptors were without point guard Kyle Lowry, who missed his fifth straight game with back spasms. DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 27 points and added eight rebounds and eight assists.

“I love KG but to have somebody that can play this huge amount of minutes is good,” Hollins said afterward of Young. “His versatility has helped us. His offensive rebounding has helped us. He posts up. He runs the court and just gives us another full-time player.”

Young’s offensive rebound and put-back with 22.2 seconds left, after Williams missed a runner and Lopez kept the ball alive, was the go-ahead bucket.

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Brook Lopez pushes the Nets with 30 points and 17 rebounds.

Young seemed to tip-toe into the lane after defender Patrick Patterson left him. Young grabbed the offensive rebound and dropped it in, giving the Nets the lead for good, 111-109.

“I see Brook going after it and tipping it and I noticed that Patrick Patterson for like four or five plays was leaving me and trying to get rebounds,” said Young, who made 12 of 15 shots. “Once I seen Brook get a hand on it (and the defense) was all jumping at Brook, it was easy for me to just slide in and tip it in.”

Young, a 6-8 forward who has a $ 10.2 million player option for next season, said he wasn’t thinking that far ahead on Friday.

“From the first day it felt like home,” Young said of Brooklyn. “I’ve been telling people all season long since I got here — I’m not really thinking of the option. I’m just playing basketball and in the summer we’ll see what happens.”

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Nets guard Alan Anderson clutches his right ankle.

After the tip-in, Young secured a rebound at the other end after a missed jumper by DeRozan. DeRozan grabbed Young as he was dribbling downcourt. A clear path foul was called, and Joe Johnson (13 points) sank a pair of free throws with 9.6 seconds left, making it a four-point game.

The win, combined with Boston’s loss on Friday to the Bucks, allowed the Nets (35-40) to move a full game in front of idle Miami for seventh place in the East and a game and a half ahead of Boston, which slipped to ninth.

With six of the team’s final seven games coming against teams that are projected to make the playoffs — including Atlanta on Saturday — Friday’s win was particularly significant against Toronto (45-31), whom the Nets knocked out of the playoffs last season.

“We got a tough stretch coming up,” Johnson said. “We can’t have any letdowns or any games get by that we should have won. We have no time for that.”

GROUNDED FOR HAWKS: Alan Anderson sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter. Although X-rays were negative, he will not make the trip to Atlanta. … Hollins mostly leaned on the starters down the stretch. “I just wasn’t confident in the bench,” he said.

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