When the Nets shipped several draft picks and dramatically expanded their payroll to bring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn last summer, they were supposed to provide the Nets with the kind of know-how necessary to deliver them to victories in close playoff games.

But as the Nets mounted their massive comeback in the fourth quarter of Game 5 against the Raptors Wednesday night — going on a 32-10 run to begin the final quarter to tie the game before losing 115-113 to fall behind 3-2 in the series — Pierce and Garnett were spectators for the entire 12 minutes.

“It is what it is,” Garnett said after finishing with four points and two rebounds in 11:40. “I thought that group in there was going. I think it’s the best team and best group to play, and they had the momentum.”

To Garnett’s point, the Nets went with the same five players — Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Alan Anderson, Mirza Teletovic and Andray Blatche — from the start of the fourth until Nets coach Jason Kidd made a couple of late defensive substitutions in the final 10 seconds.

“I thought the guys on the floor were fighting,” Kidd said. “They got us back in the game. I asked were they were tired and those guys weren’t tired, so they wanted to continue to keep playing.

“So it was more of a rhythm [thing], and also guys were knocking down shots. … When you have guys playing the way they did and fighting, you’ve got to leave those guys out there.”
Like Garnett, Pierce supported the decision.