Raps get revenge on Nets
Brooklyn might be on the rise, but the nets were no match for the red hot toronto raptors on Friday night.
Led by Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and a revitalized bench, the home side ran over a Brooklyn team that had been rocketing up the standings since stunning toronto in overtime back in december.
Leonard had 20 points, Siakam 16, Ibaka 14 and eight raptors reached double figures in the 122105 romp.
Leonard had been spotted outside the arena without a winter coat by a reporter earlier in the day, but he was anything but cold in this one. he took a ton of shots in the first quarter to get into a rhythm, important since Brooklyn’s best performance of the game came early, as the visitors jumped out to a 35-28 lead.
the raptors looked lost defensively, but pulled it together and held the nets to only 18 points in the second quarter, with Leonard taking over
the third frame was much the same, with Leonard still getting wherever he wanted to and Ibaka finding the touch from short range.
“I think we started getting back a little bit better, our transition defence started out kind of poor and we started showing a little bit more length and deflections,” said head coach nick nurse.
“We got a lot of tip-outs and runouts from primarily playing good defence.”
Point guard Fred Vanvleet, a big part of the extremely effective bench group, agreed with his coach.
“defensive pressure. Made some adjustments, started switching, getting a little more aggressive and obviously the same formula we always try to do: Create havoc on the defensive end, get out in transition, get easy points,” Vanvleet said.
even with Kyle Lowry slowly finding his way since returning from injury (Lowry only attempted three shots, scoring four points, though he added eight assists), toronto has now won sixof-seven games, including four straight and leads the nba with 32 victories.
“We started getting to the rim a little bit more, we started moving the ball. I think we ended up with 32 assists tonight, which is a big number,” nurse said of the suddenly surging offence.
after nurse pulled his starters Brooklyn went on a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter. however, toronto’s 26-point lead was too large to rally all the way back from and nurse was not forced to bring his first group back into the fray.
d’angelo russell again piled up the points against toronto (24, along with nine assists), Shabazz napier added 16 off of the bench, but usual raptor-killer Spencer dinwiddie shot just 1-for-7 from the field as Brooklyn dropped to 21-23.
NEW RAPTOR INTRODUCED
the raptors officially welcomed swingman Patrick Mccaw, even though he wasn’t in the lineup against the nets.
Mccaw said that when the raptors reached out to him after he was released by Cleveland, he made the easy call to sign, feeling toronto was a great fit.
“I just kind of felt like it was right and I could fit in right away so I went with toronto,” Mccaw said before the game.
“I’ve been watching the team play all year. they get after it on both ends of the floor defend, play multiple positions.”
raptors head coach nick nurse isn’t entirely sure what Mccaw’s role will be, but likes that he has big-game experience, having been a part of golden State Warriors championship teams before a scary back injury put him in basketball limbo.
“he’s what about 6-5, 6-6, so that puts him on the perimeter for us, and after that we don’t really know,” nurse said.
“hopefully he can space and attack and handle the ball and he can defend. those are the things he’s supposed to be able to do. Pretty interesting defender. I think he sees the game pretty well from what I’ve watched, filmwise. he’s a little bit of a risk-taker defensively, but that’s ok,” nurse said.
“We like that, we like that, too. So we’ll just see. We’ll throw him in there, play the one, two, three, wherever he fits in.”
NO HARD FEELINGS
the situation between Mccaw and the Warriors seemed a bit bizarre from the outside looking in — he was off for ages until Cleveland gave him an offer sheet that golden State declined to match, than the Cavs let him go after only a couple of games — but Mccaw played down any of that talk.
“nothing went sideways. It was just a personal decision for me to move on,” Mccaw said.
“I loved my time there. the organization, coaches, players helped me grow and develop as a young man coming in at 21 years old to the nba. there was no better situation for me to learn and grow. It’s no bad blood, it’s nothing but love for golden State and what they did for me.”
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard celebrates after making an off balance basket against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday in Toronto. The Raptors beat the Nets 122-105.