Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Brooklyn Nets finally triumphed in a close game and snap their eight-game losing streak with a win over the first place Toronto Raptors.

  • Toronto Raptors 105 (21-6)
  • Brooklyn Nets 106 (9-18)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

The Brooklyn Nets entered Friday on a brutal slide. Losers of eight straight, the Nets needed a win in the worst possible way. It was fitting that the game came down to the wire. So many of the Nets losses have come in heartbreaking fashion.

But there was no heartbreak for Brooklyn on Friday night. Sure, it took overtime for the Nets to dispatch the Raptors, but they finally closed one out.

It wasn’t always pretty either. On the Nets final offensive possession, D’Angelo Russell overdribbled and Pascal Siakam forced a turnover. The Raptors had the ball down one with 24 seconds left, but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson suffocated Kawhi Leonard. After Leonard couldn’t find his shot, Kyle Lowry had a look, but he kicked it out to an open Fred VanVleet for a shot at the buzzer. The ball caromed off the rim and Jarrett Allen snatched the ball out of midair. As soon as the buzzer sounded, Allen slammed the ball into the ground in relief.

The Nets could have easily come into this game and laid down for the Toronto Raptors. Kawhi Leonard and company have the best record in the league and they look like the early favorites in the Eastern Conference.

But rather than letting the Raptors impose their will, Brooklyn jumped out to an early 13-2 lead. The Raptors would chip away at that lead and tie the game at halftime, but the Nets could have easily had a letdown performance after the team’s monumental collapse on Wednesday.

Russell’s late turnover in overtime nearly doomed the Nets. It almost felt like deja vu all over again. But the good news is that he won’t be the goat tonight, and his late gaffe shouldn’t overshadow his impressive performance. Russell put up 29 points, five rebounds, and five assists. He was the steady hand for the Nets all night long.

Spencer Dinwiddie didn’t have his most efficient game, but he came up with some big plays late and he dished out eight assists. Dinwiddie was growing visibly frustrated with the referees down the stretch of this one. He was clobbered on the final shot of regulation, but didn’t draw a whistle. Head coach Kenny Atkinson was incensed. But the Nets still overcame their demons despite their issues with the officiating.

Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry started off slow. Leonard eventually found his groove, finishing with 32 points on 5-for-6 from deep. But Lowry had his third straight game scoring seven points or fewer. In fact, Lowry only scored three points on one field goal on Friday.

Stopping Lowry was huge for the Nets, but Brooklyn’s bench unit also stepped up in a big way. Toronto’s second unit is one of, if not the best bench in the NBA. But Toronto’s bench was outscored 37-28.

The Nets aren’t a bad team. The eight-game losing streak raised serious questions about Brooklyn’s playoff chances this season. But the Nets are not on the wrong sides of blowout night in, night out. They’re losing close games because they haven’t quite figured out how to close games.

This win doesn’t mean the Nets’ issues with closing games are in the rearview—not by a long shot. But it’s a step in the right direction. The Nets can build on this win on Saturday when they travel across town to take on the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden.

The Nets can feel good about themselves for a little bit.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.