When the Toronto Raptors strolled into Brooklyn to face the Nets tonight you could feel that extra little something in the air. After a 3-game winning streak, the Raptors (45-31) managed to come up short against their Atlantic division nemesis losing 114-109. The Brooklyn Nets (35-40) on the other hand are making a strong push in the Eastern conference playoff standings as they’re now riding a 6-game winning streak after this victory. The Nets reformed big three of Deron Wiliams, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young combined stepped it up in a big way combining for 90 of the Nets total 114 points. The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan who had another dominant performance finishing the game with 27 points 8 rebounds and 8 assists.
Amir Johnson also had to leave the game with a sprained ankle. The Raptors don’t have much time to think about tonight’s loss as they face another Atlantic division foe in the Boston Celtics tomorrow night. Great effort by the Raptors, but another tough loss to swallow. The Raptors may have let this one slip away, however they were only able to win a single quarter.
The offence was working well for the Raptors tonight. Toronto finished with 109 points on 51% shooting, which is solid. Jonas Valanciunas had a strong game finishing with 21 points and 9 rebounds. What’s even better is that they allowed him to play solid minutes against a quality opponent and he performed. Sixth man of the year candidate Louis Williams was also instrumental in keeping the Raptors in this game. Williams has done an admirable job as a point guard in the absence of Kyle Lowry, but just doesn’t have the vision to keep his teammates involved. Lou finished with a big 23 points off the bench, however it just wasn’t enough to take down the Nets.
The Raptors weren’t able to get any stops against the Nets this evening. After giving up 34 first quarter points in the first, the defensive intensity never really changed. The Nets exposed the Raptors interior defence by finishing with 74 points in the paint. The Raptors didn’t do a good job of pressuring the Nets ball-handlers either, as the Nets only committed 9 turnovers over the course of the game. With each team trading buckets for the majority of the game; it’s safe to say that the defence for both teams was a bit soft. The Nets scored 114 points on 52% shooting while dominating the Raptors in the second half. Without Kyle Lowry in his way to at least slow him down, D-Will was able to torch any player that stood in his path.
With the way the Nets dominated the paint play offensively, you’d expect them to also dominate the game on the glass. This was not the case as the Nets won the rebounding battle 41-40. Brook Lopez gave the Raptors fits once again; he finished with 17 rebounds in another dominant performance. The edge in this game goes to the Nets with their 17-13 advantage on the offensive glass. Those second chance opportunities are a large part as to why Toronto wasn’t able to prevail against the Nets tonight.
Game Ball: Deron Williams
Tonight’s game ball goes to Nets guard Deron Williams. Williams finished with a monstrous stat line of 31 points on 11/18 shooting, while also contributing 11 assists. As the Nets make a push to better their standings and solidify a playoff position, we see glimpses of what made this guy so dangerous in his yesteryears. It’s nice to see D-Will regain his All-star form, but I’d prefer if he didn’t choose to demonstrate it against the Raptors.