TORONTO - It was a strange sight, given it was essentially the reason they were brought here. As the Nets racked up 44 points in the fourth quarter, there were two players conspicuously absent.

That would be Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

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Neither played a single minute in the fourth quarter of the Nets' 115-113 loss to Toronto in Game 5 Wednesday night as coach Jason Kidd wanted to ride the hot hands that wiped out the Raptors' 26-point advantage.

"Yeah, I thought the guys on the floor were fighting and they got us back in the game," Kidd said. " . . . Those guys weren't tired, so they wanted to continue to keep playing. So it was more of a rhythm. The guys were knocking down shots . . . So when you have guys playing the way they did and fighting, you've got to leave those guys out there."

Pierce, who had 10 points, said, "I was on the sideline cheering on my teammates. They did a lovely job getting back in the game, giving themselves a chance and that was the unit that was out there. They deserved to be out there to give us a chance, a shot at winning it and while we are on the sideline, we have full confidence in them."

Garnett wasn't complaining, either. "I thought that group in there was going. I think it's the best team and best group to play, they had the best momentum," said Garnett, who had four points and two rebounds. " . . . Got to start games like that. I like the way we fought back."