Kyle Lowry had 25 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors opened up a three-game homestand with a 116-112 come-from-behind win over the Brooklyn Nets. It’s Toronto’s 12th straight win against Brooklyn and a third consecutive season sweep.
Lowry’s triple-double included five triples, which broke his own single-season record for three-point field goals made. Jonas Valanciunas had 23 points and eight rebounds while DeMar DeRozan added 21 points on a tough 8-for-21 shooting night. The second unit was led by Fred VanVleet who chipped in 16 points and six rebounds and Pascal Siakam’s 11 points and eight boards.
The visiting Nets were led by D’Angelo Russell’s first career triple-double: 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Allen Crabbe also scored 18 apiece.
Both teams came out of the gate shooting the ball well. OG Anunoby was on the receiving end of an alley-oop from Lowry to open up the game but Crabbe promptly answered with a three-pointer on the ensuing possession.
OG start to the game. pic.twitter.com/76zDUXuSIR— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 23, 2018
After an early exchange of baskets, the Nets went on a 9-2 scoring run capped by a three-pointer from ex-Raptor DeMarre Carroll, which gave Brooklyn a 16-12 lead midway through the first quarter.
Valanciunas responded with five points of his own to give Toronto the lead. The Raptors centre spotted up for a three-pointer and after a Nets turnover on the following play, the Lithuanian did his best point guard impression running the floor and finishing with a layup off the give-and-go.
Run, JV, run! pic.twitter.com/v50OQXou3Z— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 23, 2018
Dante Cunningham had a team-high 10 points off the bench as Brooklyn fought back to end the quarter on a 7-0 run. Cunningham’s three-pointer with seven seconds remaining gave the Nets a 32-31 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Brooklyn carried the momentum into the second quarter opening up a 39-33 lead before Siakam and VanVleet hit back-to-back threes to knot things up at 39 with eight minutes remaining in the half. Siakam led the “Bench Mob” with 10 first-half points, using his height advantage on a pair of mismatches to operate in the post and finish nicely with the baby hook shot.
Dwane Casey gave Jakob Poeltl the quick hook early in the second quarter in favour of a productive Lucas Nogueira, who in just four minutes, hit a three-pointer and blocked a pair of shots.
Toronto shot 49% from the field and 9-of-19 from downtown in the first half but trailed 64-59 at the half due mostly in part of their inability to shut down the Nets’ offence.
Offence: Good— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 24, 2018
Defence: Gotta tighten up
Leaders - Pts (JV 15)
Rb (JV 5)
Ast (KLow 7) pic.twitter.com/o6SOVIKjZb
It’s no secret that Brooklyn loves to shoot the three and they hit 7-of-13 attempts from downtown and 57% overall from the field. The Nets were essentially able to get whatever they wanted, whether it was Hollis-Jefferson driving by Serge Ibaka or Russell picking apart the defense with one of his eight first-half assists.
Coming out of the locker room, the Raptors still had no answers as Brooklyn pushed the lead to 11 just four minutes into the second half. Two more long distance connections from Crabbe prompted a timeout from Casey and also set a new single-season franchise record for three-point field goals made.
It wasn’t until an 8-2 scoring run to end the third quarter that Toronto finally managed to make a small cut into the Nets’ lead. The Raptors trailed 91-84 heading into the fourth after finally getting a series of defensive stops.
Toronto’s intensity continued to pick up as an Ibaka block at one end let to a DeRozan layup at the other as the Raptors trailed 95-92 with 9:04 remaining.
Baka defence— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 24, 2018
Deebo offence pic.twitter.com/z8OqbZnYDw
Things remained a one-possession game for a good chunk of the fourth. The Raptors finally took a 100-99 lead with just under five minutes to play after a pair of made free throws from Lowry.
Brooklyn re-took the lead after Jarrett Allen made both attempts from the charity stripe, but on the ensuing possession, VanVleet fired back with a three-pointer to put Toronto up 103-101 with 3:33 remaining.
4th quarter Freddy. #BetOnYourSelf pic.twitter.com/P3m3WhqkFf— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 24, 2018
It was a lead the Raptors didn’t relinquish as they held on down the stretch for the victory. Valanciunas and the All-Star backcourt elevated their play in crunch time but it shouldn’t have to be that way.
Their recent trend of slow starts and late rallies can no longer be ignored and one can only hope this is just a matter of looking ahead to the playoffs instead of anything long-term.