Raptors gear for rematch vs. skidding Nets

Over the weekend, the Toronto Raptors experienced a firsthand look at the poor state of basketball in New York.

Of course, the Raptors are not concerned with the dysfunction of the New York Knicks or the multitude problems plaguing the Brooklyn Nets.

Their focus is getting a win and Toronto will get another chance to beat the Nets on Tuesday night when the teams meet in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Toronto is 26-13 and on a three-game winning streak. The Raptors scored 42 points in the fourth quarter of a 132-113 rout of the Nets on Friday night and they held the Knicks to eight points in the third quarter of a 116-101 win on Sunday after scoring 42 of their 69 first-half points in the second quarter.

Toronto is 8-0 against Atlantic Division foes this season and the three-time division champions are on an 11-game winning streak against Atlantic opponents. The Raptors also are 22-2 in the last two seasons against those teams.

DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points against the Knicks and 28 against the Nets. More importantly for the bigger picture, the Raptors played well enough in those games that DeRozan did not play more than 30 minutes, marking the fifth time the Raptors did not need to use their star beyond 30 minutes.

Kyle Lowry did not play more than 40 minutes, as he scored 20 points in 36 minutes against Brooklyn and 16 in 28 minutes against New York.

“It’s definitely great,” DeRozan said of Toronto playing well enough to get some rest for its stars. “When you count as many games in the fourth quarter that I’ve sat out, I think it’s beneficial for guys to get rest and (others to get) reps. The younger guys are gonna play a little bit, so it’s definitely good.

“We’re not putting ourselves in predicaments where we’ve got to fight extremely hard just to get back in the game, with a run late like we did last year. We’re taking advantage of the third and fourth quarters to come out even more aggressive, and it’s paying off.”

Among those younger guys is second-year guard Norman Powell. Powell ended his rookie season with 30 points in Brooklyn on April 30 and scored a season-best 21 Sunday.

The Nets are on their second 10-game losing streak in the last nine months. Brooklyn’s next loss will be its longest losing streak since relocating from New Jersey in 2012, though if not for Randy Foye’s buzzer beater Dec. 26 against Charlotte, the Nets would be on a 16-game losing streak.

Seven of Brooklyn’s defeats during the skid are by double digits and the average margin of defeat is 12.9. During this slide, Brooklyn is allowing 115.2 points per game, 46.7 percent shooting and 36.6 percent from 3-point range while posting a 109.5 defensive rating.

Those figures increased when the Nets allowed a season-high 21 3-pointers in a 137-112 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday. It also was their most points allowed in a home game at Barclays Center and marked the first time since Dec. 2-4, 1987, at Boston and Atlanta that the Nets gave up 130 in consecutive games.

“They dominated us, and there’s just no way around it,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said.

Like they did Friday in Toronto, the Nets hung with the Rockets. The difference was the entire second half was a nightmare, especially from 3-pont range where the Nets misfired on 15 of 21 attempts.

“It’s a big part of what we do. We’ve got to make more,” Atkinson said. “Obviously we can get better, be more efficient, make more of them. It’s going to be part of our attack. We believe in it and need to get better at it to be a big part.”

The 3-point shot may be a significant component to what the Nets want to do offensively, but it has been a struggle at times. The Nets are near the bottom of the league with a 33.8 percentage from long range and are at 35 percent in the last 10 games.

Brooklyn’s increased emphasis in 3-pointers resulted in a 15-of-44 showing Sunday. The Nets are 0-6 when taking at least 40 3-pointers and 6-23 when taking at least 30.

Brook Lopez also is part of Brooklyn’s emphasis on long-range shots. He rested for the fourth time Sunday, is averaging 19.2 points in the losing streak and shooting 32.6 percent from 3-point range those games.

The Nets are 0-4 when he rests and 0-3 in the games immediately after he rests. Lopez is averaging 23.6 points after resting.

One of the games Lopez sat for was Toronto’s 116-104 home win Dec. 20. Toronto won both home meetings this season and has won the last six matchups to match its longest winning streak over the Nets (also Jan. 28, 2009 to Dec. 17, 2010).

Since the teams met in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, Toronto is 7-2 against the Nets.