Raps get re­venge on Nets

North Bay Nugget - - SPORTS - RYAN WOL­STAT

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.”

FRANK GUNN/THE Cana­dian Press

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.

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