Sports

DeRozan, Lowry lead comeback as the Raptors beat the Nets

DeRozan, Lowry lead comeback as the Raptors beat the Nets

"It was a disgraceful display of defense by us and we've got to be better than that". Their shooting percentage from the field also took a major dive, going from 63 percent (32-of-51) to 42 percent (15-of-36), with their touch on 3-pointers also materially affected. Six Raptors scored in double figures. In that department, they went from 12-of-18 (67 percent) in the first two quarters to just 3-of-16 (19 percent) in the latter two. They arrived having won two of three but had lost 20 of their last 25.

"Rest is going to be our friend", Raptors coach Dwane Casey said after the 132-129 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night in Cleveland.

In that second half, the Raptors scored 50 points after scorching the net for 79 in the first half.

Toronto's defence was missing in action early as Brooklyn, which ranked 25th in the league with 106.2 points per game, scored 64 on the Raptors in the first half to lead by five. It was the second straight game in which the Nets blew a double-digit lead, but Russell's resiliency was a reflection of the Nets' competitiveness against the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors.

Only Valanciunas, with four trips, made it to the free throw line for Toronto in the first half. Not only were the Nets leading after the break; there was a weird officiating delay that involved various equipment, headlined by a ladder and a leveler, being utilized to examine a possibly crooked rim.

The game has certainly changed - in Peterson's season, the Raptors took 1,620 three-pointers and they're at 2,393 already this season - but so, too, has Lowry's abilities. Lucas Nogueira got some rare early game minutes, and provided a brief spark of interest in an otherwise tiresome half when the seven-foot Brazilian hit his fifth three-pointer of the season and blocked two shots.

Casey credited Lowry's work ethic and the fact that he is playing fewer minutes for his improved shooting from distance, saying "he's not as worn down as he has been the last few years". Some might point to it being a product of the modern National Basketball Association and the style that Brooklyn plays - the team is second in the league in three-point attempts - and those are fair assessments. "We run a lot of sets for him to get them".

Toronto came into the game with a record 849 three-pointers made this season. The previous mark was set by Deron Williams five seasons ago.

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Coming out of the break, the Cavs managed to put together a 9-2 run to almost cut their 15-point halftime deficit in half.

The Nets' record doesn't reflect it, but progress has been made and Russell's growth in a season that was interrupted for 10 weeks while he recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery has been a vital part of that process.

Friday's game marked the opening of a three-game homestand for the Raptors, with games Sunday against the Clippers and Tuesday against Denver to come.

Toronto is an NBA-best 30-6 at home this season. He is at 215 and counting for this year, after seasons of 212 in 2015-16, 193 in 2016-17 and 190 in 2013-14.

NOTES: Former Raptors Charles Oakley and Kevin Willis watched courtside.

The Nets could use some good karma, and may need it against a Cleveland team coming in riding a four-game winning streak and incentivized to hold off a host of pursuers for the third seed in the East.

"He had command of that game", Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said of Russell, per Ian Harrison of The Associated Press.


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