EditorsNote: fixes “Raptors” in third graf
Jonas Valanciunas carried Eastern Conference-leading Toronto on an off night for stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry as the Raptors earned their ninth straight win with a 116-102 victory over the Nets on Tuesday night in New York.
Toronto entered the night 3 1/2 games ahead of second-place Boston atop the East standings and with a season-high winning streak, but the Nets proved to be a surprisingly tough test early on before the Raptors pulled it out late.
Valanciunas had a team-high 26 points and 14 rebounds. DeRozan finished with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting while Lowry had 11 while going 4-for-13 from the field with 11 assists as the Raptors won for the 16th time in 17 games.
D’Angelo Russell scored a game-high 32 points to pace the Nets. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 19 points and Caris LaVert contributed 11 points and seven assists for Brooklyn, which has now dropped six of seven.
The Nets are well out of playoff contention in 13th place in the East.
Brooklyn led by 15 points in the third quarter before Toronto used a 12-0 run to get back into the game. The Raptors led 87-85 entering the fourth.
DeMarre Carroll made one of two free throws to pull the Nets within 103-100 with 5:48 remaining, but that was as close as Brooklyn would come as Toronto responded with a 14-0 run and scored 16 of the game’s final 18 points.
The Nets were up 67-57 at halftime.
Russell knocked down seven 3-pointers in the opening quarter as Brooklyn went ahead 40-32 after one. His seven treys are the most in the first quarter by any player this season and tied for fifth-most in any quarter in NBA history.
Toronto completes a three-game road trip Thursday against Indiana. Brooklyn is at Philadelphia on Friday.
—Field Level Media