Kyle Lowry gave Toronto its best shot

Lowry expected to go further than this, a sentiment shared by others in the locker room. Despite the disappointment, though, there is plenty to build on. As long as Lowry re-signs as a free agent, this is one of the East's top teams coming off the best regular season in franchise history.

In December, the Raptors were reportedly close to being dismantled in order to get a high draft pick. In April, they were hopeful about meeting the Heat in the second round. It didn't happen, but Toronto's brief time in the spotlight showed a national audience the type of talent and fan support that exists north of the border.

To reach that final play, down by one with 6.2 seconds left, the Raptors overcame a disastrous second quarter in which the Nets scored 35 points on 12-for-18 shooting. They overcame Amir Johnson, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds and shot 9-for-12 from the field, fouling out after just 22 minutes. They overcame poor 3-point shooting, a slow start from DeRozan -- suffering from the flu, according to head coach Dwane Casey -- and a combined five points from Greivis Vasquez and Jonas Valanciunas, who were crucial earlier in the series.

"For us, all year long it's the same thing," Patterson said. "Our toughness, our ability to fight through criticism and all the naysayers ... to put ourselves in the position to win the game no matter what the deficit is, no matter what's going on, no matter who's hurt, who's injured, who's sick. We always put ourselves in a position to win the game."

When Lowry left the podium, he ran into the man who blocked his shot and ended his career season. "You're an animal, dog," Pierce said. "You're an animal." Lowry thanked him and told him he'd be watching Brooklyn in the second round.

DeRozan took his turn at the microphone 10 minutes later, and said the Raptors showed they'd fight until their last breaths. He added that they'll grow from the experience, and that this one series felt like two. Asked about Lowry's future, he said he wasn't worried about it.

"Why would he leave?" DeRozan said. "Just my opinion. That's how I look at it."

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