For the second time in the past week, the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets met for a competitive eastern conference clash in Tampa Bay. The Nets bounced back after losing the first meeting and defeated the Toronto Raptors by a score of 116-103. Brooklyn has now won three games in a row, while the Raptors have dropped two out of their last three.
The Nets were once again without James Harden on Tuesday night, but proved their depth with a complete team effort. Many would predict a game like this to turn into a Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving show, but it was actually Jeff Green that led the way with 22 points and 8 rebounds. Joe Harris stepped up as well with 16 points and 6 assists, shooting 4/9 from behind the three. While most of the production was from others, one of the key stars still produced, as Durant contributed for the visitors with a 17-point 10-rebound double-double. Irving had a rough shooting night going 3-for-13 from the field, but was picked up by his teammates on what was a rare night off.
The Toronto Raptors have been led offensively by Pascal Siakam as of late, but it was Kyle Lowry that carried much of the offensive load in this game. Lowry scored 24 points with 6 rebounds, while OG Anunoby posted another impressive stat line with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Khem Birch continued his positive momentum with the team with another sturdy double-double, finishing with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
As previously mentioned, Nets star Irving struggled against the Raptors, largely due to the aggressive defence played by Toronto. Much has been made of the three-headed monster Brooklyn possesses, but what has flown a bit under the radar is the depth pieces they’ve been able to add. All three of the Nets bench players scored in double digits including a great performance from Blake Griffin, and they beat the Raptors in the bench point battle 38-24.
Toronto didn’t get much from their bench once again on Tuesday night, getting only three points of production outside of Yuta Watanabe and Malachi Flynn. Flynn specifically has been hot as of late, and had another efficient 13 points on 4/8 shooting on the outing. Watanabe has shown flashes for Toronto, and had a decent game against the top competition in the conference.
The Raptors played an efficient first quarter that managed to match whatever Brooklyn threw at them. The two teams split the next two quarters as the Raptors carried a narrow lead into the fourth. As it has been often this season for the Raptors in the second leg of a back-to-back, the legs tired late and Brooklyn ran away with the game, getting whatever they wanted offensively in the final frame.
With the loss, the Toronto Raptors fall back to 1.5 games behind Washington for the final play-in spot in the east, with one of the hardest remaining schedules in the NBA coming up over the next few weeks. For Brooklyn, this win gives them a 2-game advantage over Philadelphia for first place in the eastern conference, as even without some of their key pieces they have been able to roll through most of their competition.
Looking ahead, both teams will be back in action on Thursday, with the Toronto Raptors looking to bounce back in a difficult matchup against the Jamal Murray-less Nuggets, while the Nets take on their eastern conference foes, the Pacers.
Lowry – 24 PTS 2 REB 6 AST
Anunoby – 21 PTS 6 REB 6 AST
Birch – 13 PTS 14 REB 1 AST
VanVleet – 11 PTS 6 REB 5 AST
Green – 22 PTS 8 REB 1 AST
Durant – 17 PTS 10 REB 4 AST
Harris – 16 PTS 3 REB 6 AST
Griffin – 17 PTS 6 REB 1 AST