Rap­tors sink the Nets

Valan­ci­u­nas leads the way with 26 points, 14 re­bounds

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - Sports - Rap­tors in New Jersey

If it was easy, it wouldn’t be as much fun. Pushed to the lim­its by a hard-play­ing Brook­lyn Nets team, the Toronto Rap­tors es­caped the Bar­clays Cen­ter with a 116-102 vic­tory on Tues­day night that was truly well earned.

The Rap­tors over­came a tor­rid Nets start to reach the 50-win plateau for the third straight sea­son. They ran their cur­rent win streak to nine games and moved four full games ahead of the sec­ond-place Bos­ton Celtics in the NBA’S Eastern Con­fer­ence.

Fred Vanvleet sparked a 15-0 Rap­tors run in the third quar­ter that got them back in the game, and C.J. Miles made three three­p­oint­ers in the fourth quar­ter as Toronto ral­lied for a sev­enth straight road win. Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry sparked a 9-0 run that gave Toronto a 12-point lead with two min­utes left and sealed the vic­tory.

And now that the Rap­tors have reached 50 wins at the ear­li­est point in any sea­son, they have their sights on 60, which would re­quire a 10-5 end to the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“It’s never been done (in Toronto),” Demar Derozan said ear­lier. “Not many peo­ple get the op­por­tu­nity to win 60-plus games. We came close a cou­ple years ago, that’s big.

“On top of that, you’ve got to prove why you’re a 60-win team. As long as you con­tinue to do what we need to do, hope­fully we can get there.”

Jonas Valan­ci­u­nas, dom­i­nat­ing a small-ball Nets lineup, had 26 points and 14 re­bounds to lead Toronto while Derozan had 15 and Lowry added 11 points and 11 as­sists.

Brook­lyn’s D’an­gelo Rus­sell put on an as­ton­ish­ing shoot­ing dis­play in the first quar­ter, mak­ing seven straight three-point­ers and scor­ing 24 points in the first eight min­utes of the game.

Rus­sell, who didn’t make another three the rest of the night, fin­ished with 32 points.

Brook­lyn for­ward dante Cun­ning­ham de­fends Jonas Valan­ci­u­nas un­der the rap­tors’ bas­ket in new York on Tues­day night, in a game Toronto came back to win by 14.

KATHY Willens/the as­so­ci­ated Press

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