The Toronto Raptors defeated the Brooklyn Nets for the second night in a row in front of a packed Scotiabank Arena; 110-109 on Tuesday evening.
The win improves the Raptors to 34-27 on the year and 17-13 on their home floor.
Both teams came out firing on the second night of a home-and-home, energized by a full Toronto crowd for the first time since December 13th. The Raptors looked dangerous early, taking an early 32-25 lead less than 24 hours after blowing the Nets out by 36. The second frame was a different story though as former Raptor James Johnson and Patty Mills caught fire, giving the Nets a 4-point lead at the break. The Raptors battled back in the third, eventually taking the lead before giving it right back to the Nets who went on an 11-2 run to close the quarter. Down by 8 heading into the fourth, the Raptors had to grind their way back into it through tough defensive play and role players stepping up, most notably Thaddeus Young off the bench. After the Raptors took the lead late, Seth Curry tied things at 103 with 30 seconds to play before Gary Trent Jr. claimed it back at the free throw line. Following a great block from Scottie Barnes and another solid defensive possession, the Raptors walked away with the thrilling 1-point win.
It was a complete team effort from the Raptors on Tuesday night as the entire starting unit finished in double figures while several bench pieces performed as well. Trent Jr. lead the way with 24 points and 7 assists, while Pascal Siakam and Barnes finished with 18 a piece, with Barnes tacking on 10 rebounds for a double-double. Malachi Flynn impressed in his second spot-start for the injured Fred VanVleet, scoring 15 points with 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Canadian big man Birch had 11 and 5. The Raptors bench has struggled all season but it was a great night for new addition Young, who had 11 big points and 3 rebounds while Montreal’s Chris Boucher contributed with 8 of his own.
With no real star power in the lineup the Nets were forced to score by committee in the loss, as Johnson led the team with 19. Curry had 18 points with 6 rebounds while LaMarcus Aldridge turned back the clock with 16 points and 9 boards. Cam Thomas had 11 points off the bench, and controversial former Raptor Goran Dragic had 10 amongst a constant roar of boo’s and jeers from the Raptors faithful.
Brooklyn lined up defensively in a zone for much of the night, creating issues that Nick Nurse’s men were eventually able to overcome. The Raptors offence was visibly shaken in the second quarter, but constant play call switching and frequent backdoor cuts allowed for them to regain their offensive momentum through success in the paint.
The back-to-back wins over the Nets are massive for a Raptors team missing two of their most influential players in VanVleet and OG Anunoby. Of course, the home-and-home was a battle of health as the Nets are also struggling with injuries to all of their stars, causing them to free-fall down the East standings.
Toronto are maintaining their position in the conference through this 6-games-in-8-night stretch, still sitting in 7th place just 1.5 games behind the Celtics for an automatic playoff berth. In terms of play-in tournament qualification, the Raptors lead is up to 6 games over the 11th place Wizards.
The Raptors will look to keep things going at home when they welcome the lowly Detroit Pistons to town on Thursday, while the Nets will be back in action on the same night for a home date against the Miami Heat.
Trent Jr. – 24 PTS 2 REB 7 AST
Siakam – 18 PTS 8 REB 6 AST
Barnes – 18 PTS 10 REB 4 AST
Johnson – 19 PTS 2 REB 3 AST
Curry – 18 PTS 4 REB 6 AST
Aldridge – 16 PTS 9 REB 3 AST