Much better this time.
Brooklyn faced a shorthanded opponent on the road for the second day in a row after Tuesday’s embarrassing loss to the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers. The Toronto Raptors Last year’s All-Stars winner Scotty Barnes lost to Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, as well as Otto Porter Jr., Precious Achiwa and Dalano Banton.
After a sluggish first half, the Nets took care of business convincingly, winning 112-98 for the team’s ninth win of the season. Brooklyn now sits at 9-10.
Despite being quiet in the first half, Kyrie Irving went completely nuclear in the second, putting up 29 points on 11 from 16 and 5 from 8 from three. Of his total points, 26 came in the second half, the third-highest half of his netball scoring.
Ben Simmons had another promising outing, putting up 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting and six assists. His defense was as good as the Net looked, with Toronto football players swarming – Gary Trent Jr. and Malachi Flynn – for catching three steals and two blocks.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant had a quiet game by his standards with 12 points but passed Kevin Garnett’s 26,071 for 18th place on the leaderboard. Next up for Durant is John Havlicek with 26,395 points. And despite this low production, KD moved up the Nets with a +30 rating.
All five Brooklyn players scored double-digit points. Nick Claxton recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Royce O’Neal had a career-best five three-pointers for 15 points. Brooklyn also caught 32 assists on 45 field goals, marking the fourth consecutive game the team had recorded more than 30 assists.
Interior defense was a major strength for the Nets, especially in the second half, as Brooklyn—the league leader in shutouts—recorded 11 total blocks for the Raptors’ two sets. They also limited outside shooting opportunities and conserved 24.1% shooting on only 29 deep looks. Meanwhile, the Nets couldn’t miss and shot 54.9% from the field and 44.7% from three.
The Brooklyn front yard was touching from the jump. Simmons continued his strong play with four early points and one steal and was a major cause of the Nets scoring six early breakout points. Claxton was equally strong, painting patrols with perfection on his way to six points, three rebounds and two blocks. Their Nets built an early 21-12 advantage before the six-minute mark.
Brooklyn held the advantage until Cam Thomas scored at the end of the quarter. Thomas got on the board with four quick points and an assist but then gave up a third layup with an assist from the strong side. This is the yin and yang of relying on young players. Brooklyn finished leading 38-26 to finish first.
Toronto started the second quarter in a row 13-0 as Gary Trent Jr. started to get the lead. Meanwhile, the offensive rebound continued to be an issue for the Nets after the brutal night in Philadelphia, as the Raptors grabbed 10 early offensive rebounds through a quarter and a half. As such, things were pretty much knotted for most of the period as neither team could find any kind of rhythm.
Edmund Sumner scored at 5:34 in the second and quickly got on the board with a layup on the move as he cut from the weakside, then scored in a six thanks to some stellar offensive point defense. This gave the Nets a seven-point lead. Unfortunately, Brooklyn proceeded to cough up the ball twice (Durant was one of the culprits on one of his five turnovers in the first half), and Toronto tied things up. Despite Toronto shooting only 18% from three in the first half, the Raptors were down just 52-51 against Brooklyn after two periods.
Brooklyn finally It started in the third quarter. Kyrie Irving broke his silence by pulling a two-and-three and throwing a fastbreak through contact. Behind increased efforts to start the second half, the Nets took a 10-0 lead.
Nets continued to be cast in the third. Kyrie was hurling shots left and right, and Ben Simmons wreaked havoc against Raptors ballplayers for two steals. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant ramped up the defense and poked multiple shots over the edge for three blocks. Behind the efforts of their three stars, the Nets grew the lead to 91-76 to finish in third place.
Brooklyn continued to keep the defensive intensity high in the fourth quarter. Royce O’Neal tipped off two steals, and suddenly Brooklyn’s lead grew to 20. The Nets never looked back, roaring over the finish line with a 14-point advantage.
KD passes KG. With his 10th point at the start of the second half, Kevin Durant (12 points) scored 26,072 career points, passing Kevin Garnett (26,071) to 18th on the NBA’s all-time leading scorer list. Next: John Havlicek (26,395 points).
The Nets finished with 32 assists, marking the first time since March 1987 that they had posted four consecutive 30-assist games.
Brooklyn heads to Indiana for Friday’s game after splitting the season series 1-1 earlier in the season. Coverage begins on the YES Network at 8 p.m. EST.
For a different perspective on tonight’s game, head over to Raptors HQsister site of the Raptors.