Nets fall to Raptors, are locked into fourth seed

Deron Williams reacts late in the second half

Deron Williams reacts late in the second half of a game in Toronto. (April 14, 2013) (Credit: AP)

TORONTO -- No need for a televised sitdown, LeBron James-style.

"The Decision'' for P.J. Carlesimo was an easy one: Listen to his players, particularly because entering Sunday's play, the Nets still had an outside shot at moving into third place in the Eastern Conference.

"They would rather play than rest," Carlesimo said. "Their sense was not 'Yeah, rest me. I need to lay down for a couple of days.' Their sense was 'No, we are playing good right now, let's keep it going.'

"If they had all said, 'Hey, we feel banged up, we'd rather rest a couple and just play enough to keep our conditioning,' that would have made our decision easier."

It should be even easier now in the final two games after the Nets blew their chance to slide ahead of the Pacers Sunday. They lost, 93-87, to the Raptors at Air Canada Centre after falling behind by 21 early in a game they never led. The Nets had won four in a row.

Now the Nets (47-33) are locked into the fourth seed and will open at home against the Hawks or Bulls when the playoffs begin this weekend.

Although Indiana (49-31) lost to the Knicks, the Pacers are the third seed because they won the Central Division. To get a better seed than a division winner, a non-division winner such as the Nets must have a better record. Because they are two games behind with two to play, that's no longer possible.

"The players wanted to pursue it, which I think was good," Carlesimo said. "But we probably played guys more than we would've played them. But it was easy to see the score that [Indiana] was down and looked like they were going to lose. So it was like, 'Let's make a push.' "

Trailing by 19 at the half, the Nets needed a big third quarter from Deron Williams and Brook Lopez just to get back in it. Lopez shook off a sluggish start -- 1-for-7, two points in the first half -- and finally got it going with Williams, as the two produced all 27 of the Nets' third-quarter points.

They got as close as two in the fourth quarter when Andray Blatche hit the second of two free throws, but they couldn't get the crucial defensive stop they needed. Toronto (32-48) went up by eight points before the Nets made things close in the final seconds.

Williams had 30 points, the fourth straight game with at least 30. He also had seven assists and collected more bumps and bruises, which means he probably won't play much -- if at all -- until the playoffs roll around.

"We'll see," he said. "We'll talk to Tim , talk to P.J. and see. I got kneed twice more today in two different spots, so we'll see how it goes tomorrow."

Joe Johnson, working his way back from a sore left heel, said virtually the same thing.

"We'll see, but obviously I've got to do what's best for myself, for my team, as far as getting healthy, getting ready for the postseason,'' Johnson said. "So I will talk to our trainers and coaches tomorrow and we'll see where we go from there."

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