TORONTO (AP)—The Toronto Raptors celebrated with Sam Mitchell, then went out and played like him.
After starting the night with an award ceremony for their coach of the year, the Raptors beat the New Jersey Nets 89-83 Tuesday to even their first-round series at a game apiece.
“He wasn’t the prettiest player but he got the job done and that’s kind of how the playoffs are,” forward Chris Bosh said. “You just have to get the job done, no matter what happens.”
Anthony Parker scored 26 points and Bosh added 25 points and 13 rebounds in Toronto’s first playoff victory since a 94-84 home win over Detroit on April 27, 2002. It came hours after Mitchell was honored as the NBA’s coach of the year for leading the Raptors to a 20-win improvement and their first Atlantic Division title.
“We definitely turned a corner as a team tonight because we gutted it out, especially when things weren’t going well,” Parker said.
“This was a game we had to have. We couldn’t go to Jersey down 0-2. Now we’ve got to go to Jersey and get one.”
New Jersey’s Bostjan Nachbar missed a 3-pointer from the corner that would have tied the game with 8 seconds to play. Game 3 is Friday night in New Jersey.
“We felt very confident coming down the stretch that we could win this game, but unfortunately we didn’t,” New Jersey guard Jason Kidd said. “We’re not disappointed. We came up here to win Game 2 and we gave our best effort.”
Mitchell said he was touched when his players joined him at center court for the pregame award ceremony with commissioner David Stern.
“None of this could have happened without those 15 guys in the locker room,” Mitchell said. “The best part other than winning the basketball game was the presentation when those guys came out, because we really care about each other. I work them hard but they also know how much I care about them.”
Bosh said the gesture was a sign of team unity.
“He dedicated that award to everyone,” Bosh said. “He knows and we know that it takes a team. If you do team things well, individual recognition comes along with it.”
T.J. Ford scored 13 points for the Raptors, including four key free throws in the final minute. Parker also made three free throws in the final 8 seconds.
“We need Anthony Parker to continue to play like that,” Mitchell said. “He was just unbelievable tonight.”
Vince Carter had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who also got 14 points and 11 boards from Kidd. Nachbar finished with 17 points for the Nets.
Richard Jefferson, whose 28-point performance led the Nets to victory in Game 1, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with 13 points.
Both teams struggled with their shooting, each finishing 31-for-76.
“The whole game offensively we just seemed like we weren’t able to make shots,” Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. “You’ve got to give Toronto a lot of credit. They played extremely hard. There’s a reason why we missed shots. They affected them.”
After going 5-for-19 in Game 1, Carter struggled again, shooting just 8-of-24.
“I’m not worried about the shots going in,” Carter said. “If I remain aggressive, I’ll play my way out of it.”
Parker expects Carter to be better in Game 3.
“I don’t anticipate him shooting 8-for-24 again, but we said that last game, too,” Parker said. “He’ll be at home and probably be a little more comfortable.”
The Nets led 63-58 to begin the fourth, but a three-point play by Bosh tied the score at 63 with 11 minutes left. Bosh scored 11 points in the quarter.
“In that fourth quarter, when we needed him, he stepped up,” Mitchell said.
Neither team was able to build a lead of more than three points until a 3-pointer by Kidd put the Nets up 78-74 with 3:43 remaining. But two free throws from Bosh and a 3-pointer by Ford put Toronto back in front.
The Nets took their final lead at 83-82 when Jefferson hit a 3-pointer with 46 seconds to play.
Ford put Toronto ahead 84-83 with a pair of free throws before Jefferson missed a 3. Ford then made two more free throws before Nachbar’s miss. Parker sealed the win with three more free throws.
Parker provided the highlight moment of a sloppy opening quarter, stealing the ball from Carter with less than 5 seconds to play and racing upcourt to hit a 3-pointer that gave the Raptors a 14-12 lead. Parker scored eight points in the opening 12 minutes.
Jose Calderon and Kidd exchanged glares and angry words after Kidd fouled Calderon on a drive to the basket midway through the second, but the two did not come to blows. … San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson watched the game from a courtside seat.