Raptors sink Nets
Valanciunas leads the way with 26 points, 14 rebounds
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
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
Despite that hot start — Brooklyn scored 40 points in the first quarter — the Raptors bench pulled Toronto into a one-point lead in the second quarter before the starters returned and played them in a 67-57 halftime deficit.
The Nets, who take the second most three-pointers per game in the league, made no secret of how they wanted to play, starting a small lineup with nominal small forward Dante Cunningham starting at centre.
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.