NEW YORK — Deron Williams scored 23 points, shaking off a second-half injury, and the Brooklyn Nets forced a seventh game in their first-round series by beating the Toronto Raptors 97-83 on Friday night.
Despite appearing to hurt his left foot or ankle early in the third quarter, Williams dominated his matchup with Kyle Lowry and helped the Nets put it away with a 3-pointer with 1:13 left that made it 92-79.
Game 7 is Sunday in Toronto, with the winner advancing to face the defending champion Miami Heat.
DeMar DeRozan scored 28 for the Raptors, who will have to go the distance if they are to win a seven-game series for the first time in franchise history. They haven’t won any postseason series since 2001, and never really had a chance to wrap this one up after falling behind by 26 points.
Lowry shot 4 of 16 for 11 points after scoring 36 in the Raptors’ Game 5 victory. He was the only other Toronto player in double figures.
Joe Johnson had 17 points and Kevin Garnett 13 for the Nets, who will play in a Game 7 for the second straight season. They fell to Chicago last year on their home floor and will try to win it this time in Toronto, where they won Game 1.
Clippers coach meets with angry employees
LOS ANGELES — Clippers coach Doc Rivers said employees on the team’s business side considered not working for the franchise after owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments were exposed a week ago.
Rivers met with team employees who were still upset and angry Friday morning, several days after Sterling was banned for life from the NBA.
He made the trip downtown at the request of other top executives with the Clippers, who will play the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series Saturday night.
Instead of preparing for the biggest game of the season, Rivers spent the morning at the Clippers’ team offices, listening to employees in ticket sales, marketing and other departments who took the brunt of public backlash against the Clippers in phone calls and other contact with the public.
“They really haven’t had a lot of people talking to them,” Rivers said of the team employees. “It was really hard to see them. I didn’t realize. Ticket people, marketing people, and they’re sitting there crying, and I felt so bad for them. I was thinking, ‘My God, we’ve been in this thing as players and as the coaches.’ You forget that these are the people that are on the front line, and they work for the organization, too.”
When asked why he made the trip at such a crucial time for his basketball team, Rivers said: “There was a need.”
Randolph suspended for Game 7
NEW YORK — Memphis forward Zach Randolph has been suspended for Game 7 of the Grizzlies’ playoff series against Oklahoma City for punching Thunder center Steven Adams in the jaw.
The ruling Friday by the NBA leaves the Grizzlies without their leading scorer for the deciding game in Oklahoma City on Saturday night.
The play came with 6:42 left in the Thunder’s 104-84 victory Thursday night. Randolph first elbowed Adams in the midsection with his left elbow, then struck Adams with his right hand.
Randolph is averaging a team-best 18.2 points in the series.