TORONTO — After a poor defensive effort in losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, the Toronto Raptors tightened up to defeat the Orlando Magic 109-79 on Sunday.
The Brooklyn Nets, on the other hand, continue to lose on the road as they dropped a 108-107 game to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday after losing in Orlando on Friday.
The Nets (7-19) make their next stop in Toronto to play the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night.
“I thought that was a good bounce-back for us after our lackluster defensive game against Atlanta but that’s the way we have to play,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said after the win on Sunday. “If we’re going to be important or relevant in this league, we have to play with that defensive intensity every night.”
It was the same old story for the Nets, who are 1-12 on the road.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Nets center Brook Lopez said after the game on Sunday. “I don’t know if there’s that much analysis to it. … “We just have keep playing the right way. We don’t have any room for error. We have to hold each other accountable. We just have to be better. We have to play a complete game for 48 minutes.”
Lopez had 22 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and four blocks Sunday and is scheduled to be rested on Tuesday and not play against the Raptors, who have won 11 of their past 13 games.
Former Raptor Luis Scola could be Lopez’s replacement on Tuesday.
The Raptors continued to show their depth on Sunday. Backup point guard Cory Joseph could not play against the Magic because of flu symptoms. Fred VanVleet stepped in and scored four points, dished four assists and had three steals.
“Fred came in and there was no let-up,” Casey said. “I told somebody Cory better hurry up and get well, footsteps are behind him.”
VanVleet has been shuttled between the D-League and the Raptors.
“It has been a grind for sure, going back and forth with a lot of basketball, but it’s part of the process,” he said. “Just lucky I got guys like Norm (Powell), who have already done it and paved the way so you can pick his brain a little bit about how he got through it. At this point, it’s about the experience and the exposure. It’s not punishment. Just something you have to go through and you try to play well every time you go out there.”
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors on Sunday with 31 points.
Jonas Valanciunas rebounded from a mediocre game against the Hawks to score 16 points and grab 13 rebounds against the Magic.
The Nets’ weakness has been allowing offensive rebounds and second-chance points.
“Yeah, it’s definitely an issue, definitely one of our weaker points defensively,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We definitely have to do a better job, and guard rebounding is huge for us, and we have to do it collectively. This is going to be a big challenge.”
DeRozan was named Eastern Conference player of the week of Dec. 12-18 on Monday.
It is the second time DeRozan has earned the honor this season (Nov. 7-13) and the third time overall in his eight-year career.
DeRozan led the NBA last week averaging 31.5 points and shooting 60.5 percent (46 for 76) from the field in four games. He also averaged 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. DeRozan led the Raptors in scoring in all four games, scoring at least 30 points and shooting 50 percent or better from the field as the team had a 3-1 record.