Jan 17, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) controls the ball against Toronto Raptors small forward Terrence Ross (31) during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The Brooklyn Nets, looking to snap their 10-game losing streak, came out extremely flat versus the Toronto Raptors. Toronto started the game on an 11-0 run, before the Nets finally got on the board with a Trevor Booker layup at the 9:15 mark of the first quarter.
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The Nets responded with a 7-0 run of their own, to cut Toronto’s early lead to four. Bojan Bogdanovic scored five early points, but he also picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter, which forced Kenny Atkinson to turn to his bench.
After a slow start, the Nets took their first lead of the game at the two-minute mark, the result of a 22-10 extended run. Thanks to 15 bench points in the first quarter, Brooklyn came all the way back to lead Toronto 29-26 at the end of the first quarter.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was on a roll off the bench, as he scored 10 points by making his first four shots from the field. But just two minutes into the second quarter, Hollis-Jefferson asked to be removed from the game.
Just as in the first quarter, Toronto appeared comfortable for the early portion of the second quarter. Led by Cory Joseph, the Raptors were distancing themselves. But once again, Brooklyn was able to close the gap, as they did in the first quarter.
Ultimately, the second quarter was a back-and-forth affair as the Raptors and Nets traded buckets and lead changes. A flashy layup from Brook Lopez gave the Nets their biggest lead of the game to that point, six. But three DeMar DeRozan free throws just before halftime cut Brooklyn’s lead to three. The Nets led 61-58 at halftime.
Brooklyn was led by Brook Lopez in the first half, as he scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Multiple Raptors — DeRozan, Terrence Ross, and Cory Joseph — scored in double figures in the first half.
In order to snap their losing streak, the Nets needed to play a complete 24 minutes in the second half.
Both DeRozan and Joseph continued to pose problems for the Nets’ defense in the second half. Midway through the third quarter, with Toronto leading 80-73, DeRozan had 24 points and Joseph had 23. As Toronto began to pull away, only one Raptor besides DeRozan and Joseph was even in double figures (Terrence Ross with 13). Largely led by their backcourt, the Raptors scored 34 points in the third quarter to Brooklyn’s 24. The Raptors led 92-85 with one quarter to play.
The Nets got a massive scare in the fourth quarter, as Brook Lopez appeared to roll his right ankle or lower foot. Lopez immediately began to limp, but he stayed in the game. While the Nets could find solace in the fact that Lopez was not severely injured, it didn’t change the fact that Toronto was pulling away. Toronto led 109-94 with 5:30 left in the game, as Brooklyn simply could not contain the Raptors.
Brooklyn was able to make a bit of a run toward the end of regulation, as the Nets went on a 7-0 run, but it was too little, too late. The Raptors won 119-109, handing the Nets their 11th consecutive loss. This is the Nets’ longest losing streak since 2009-2010.
Jan 17, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) drives against Brooklyn Nets power forward Trevor Booker (35) during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1. The Nets could not contain Toronto’s backcourt
Usually, when the Nets do not have to contend with Kyle Lowry, that would be considered a positive for Brooklyn’s chances to win. But even without Lowry, Toronto’s backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Cory Joseph played phenomenally for the entire game. DeRozan scored a game-high 36 points, 10 of which came at the free throw line, and Joseph poured in 33 — a career-high — on an extremely efficient 15-of-22 shooting. The Raptors’ starting backcourt combined for 69 points, while Brooklyn’s scored just 16 points.
2. The Raptors excelled from beyond the arc, while the Nets struggled
The Raptors shot 10-of-19 from three-point range, good for 52.6 percent, while the Nets shot 7-of-26, good for just 26.9 percent from beyond the arc. DeMarre Carroll and Terrence Ross each made three three-pointers, and Fred VanVleet made two. Caris LeVert and Bojan Bogdanovic each made two for the Nets, but overall Brooklyn struggled. At the halfway point of the season, the Nets have still won just one game this season in which they made less than 10 three-pointers (nine versus the Denver Nuggets).
Eventually, Caris LeVert will be starting in Brooklyn’s backcourt. It’s only a matter of time. LeVert put together another solid outing against Toronto, as he scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including the aforementioned two three-pointers. LeVert also had four assists, three rebounds, and two steals. What stands out about LeVert is his pure athleticism. He may not lead the Nets in scoring initially, but that’s not indicative of his value. He impacts the game in so many ways, from defense, to running the fast break. At some point, LeVert will get a chance to run with the starters. If he continues to produce as he did against Toronto, that chance could come soon.
Jan 17, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) controls the ball against Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Player of the Game:
Brook Lopez nearly had a double-double, as he scored a team-high 28 points, and pulled down eight rebounds as well. It’s not unusual for Lopez to lead the Nets in scoring — it’s expected — and he delivered. Lopez was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line, and he was a force in the paint all game long. The Nets held their collective breath as Lopez appeared to injure his foot. When his foot rolled, Lopez limped rather noticeably. But to Lopez’s credit, he was not coming out of the game. In a season riddled with injuries for the Nets, Lopez has been a constant.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played about as well as possible early in the game, when he scored 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting. Hollis-Jefferson, off the bench, was keeping the Nets in the game after Toronto opened up on an 11-0 run. Hollis-Jefferson appeared to be bothered by something, as he asked out of the game, but he would return later. He played 26 minutes, more than every starter except Brook Lopez, and Hollis-Jefferson played well. His 14 points tied with LeVert for second on the team behind Lopez on Tuesday.
Up your game, please…
Joe Harris struggled against Toronto. He played 18 minutes, and was the only starter on either team to not score in the game. Harris was 0-of-3 from the field, and missed his only three-point attempt. Harris also did not record any assists or rebounds. He did, however, have one steal. Harris has gotten a string of games where he starts for the Nets, but his production hasn’t been the same as when he was coming off of the bench. Harris is not a bad player, but he simply is giving the Nets much offensively since he’s been in the starting lineup. With LeVert improving quickly, perhaps it’ll soon be time to switch things up in the starting lineup.
With the loss to Toronto, Brooklyn’s first half of the 2016-17 season is officially in the books. The Nets finished the first half of the season with an 8-33 record. The loss also stretched Brooklyn’s losing streak to 11 games. The Nets will have two days off before visiting the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, which will be the first game of a back-to-back.