With their statement-making win in the Atlantic Division, the Toronto Raptors have clinched a second straight winning month for the first time in four years.
Though they could be without leading scorer DeMar DeRozan, the first-place Raptors appear to have a good opportunity to keep it going against the NBA’s worst road team.
Toronto goes for its fourth win in five games Wednesday night as it tries to deal the Orlando Magic a 10th straight loss away from home.
Trailing by three points with 17 seconds left Monday in Brooklyn, the Raptors scored on a John Salmons drive before Patrick Patterson stole an inbounds pass and hit the go-ahead jumper with six seconds left in a 104-103 victory.
With a pair of head-to-head wins, Toronto (23-21) is the only team to beat the second-place Nets this month as it opened up a 2 1/2-game lead in the division.
Kyle Lowry picked up the scoring load with DeRozan out because of a sprained right ankle. He finished with 31 points for the Raptors, who clinched a winning record in consecutive months for the first time since December 2009 and January 2010.
Lowry, though, has struggled from the field in his last two home games, totaling 14 points while missing 18 of 20 shots.
DeRozan, averaging a team-high 21.8 points, is questionable against the Magic after having his run of 125 consecutive starts come to an end.
"This is all about our toughness, our resiliency, no matter who’s out there during the course of the game, no matter who’s not playing," said Patterson, who finished with 15 points off the bench Monday.
Orlando (12-34) certainly wouldn’t mind missing DeRozan, who hit a jumper as time expired to give Toronto a 97-95 road win in the most recent meeting on Jan. 24, 2013. He finished with 22 points as the Raptors wrapped up their first four-game sweep of the season series since 2006-07.
Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas has played well with a combined 37 points and 25 boards in his last two games. The second-year center may not have to deal with Orlando big man Nikola Vucevic, who is traveling with the team but hasn’t been cleared from a concussion he sustained Jan. 6.
Terrence Ross, who tied a franchise record with 51 points and made 10 3-pointers Saturday, scored 10 on 3-of-9 shooting against the Nets.
The Raptors have scored 108.7 per game while shooting 43.7 percent from beyond the arc over their last three. That’s a trend they should be able to continue against Orlando, which has allowed 107.8 points per game and 39.9 percent shooting from 3 over its last 10.
The Magic, an NBA-worst 3-20 on the road, dropped their ninth straight away from home with a 103-87 loss at Detroit on Tuesday night. They haven’t won a road game since an 83-82 victory at Chicago on Dec. 16.
”We have to be tougher,” guard Jameer Nelson said. ”Every guy on this team needs to take pride and ownership in their individual performance and the team’s performance."
Rookie Victor Oladipo had 19 points in Tuesday’s loss, while Arron Afflalo and Tobias Harris each added 14.
Afflalo – averaging a team-high 20.4 points – scored 26 while making 7 of 11 from the field, each of his three 3s and all nine of his free-throws attempts in a 93-90 loss in Toronto on Dec. 21, 2012.
The Raptors have lost two of three at home following a season-high six-game winning streak there.