TORONTO â€” The lowly Brooklyn Nets hung with the Toronto Raptors for three quarters on Friday night. A blistering start to the fourth quarter ensured the home team would not be upset by the NBA’s last-place club.
Toronto scored the first 11 points of the fourth and went on a 21-2 run en route to a 132-113 victory at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors scored 42 points in the final quarter to match a franchise record set in March 1997 at Golden State.
“I thought our guys picked it up,” said Toronto head coach Dwane Casey. “They got upset with themselves and decided to start to compete hard.”
DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 28 points as Toronto (26-13) had seven players reach double figures. It was the Raptors’ highest point total in a non-overtime game in franchise history.
Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his team-leading 14th double-double of the season. All five Toronto starters scored in double digits as the Nets (8-31) dropped their ninth game in a row.
Brooklyn has a feeble 1-18 road record but impressive three-point shooting kept the Nets in the game through 36 minutes.
“We got into a black hole in the beginning of the fourth quarter,” said Bojan Bogdanovic, who led the Nets with 23 points. “We have to extend those good minutes that we play.”
Brook Lopez had 20 points and five assists for Brooklyn. Toronto guard Kyle Lowry scored 20 points and Cory Joseph had 16 points off the bench.
Valanciunas had another strong start, picking up where he left off in Tuesday’s eight-point win over Boston. The seven-foot Lithuanian, who had 18 points and a career-high 23 rebounds against the Celtics, had six rebounds and eight points in the first 10 minutes.
A Norm Powell three-pointer gave Toronto a 27-24 advantage but Justin Hamilton quickly answered from distance for the Nets, who hit five of 10 three-point shots in the quarter.
Toronto led 34-27 early in the second quarter but Brooklyn moved ahead after an 8-0 run. Lucas Nogueira â€” making his third start of the season â€” restored the Raptors’ lead with an alley-oop dunk on a feed from Lowry.
Lopez, meanwhile, kept the Nets close with his strong play in the low post while Randy Foye and Bogdanovic chipped in with regular three-pointers.
Brooklyn hit eight of 17 shots from long range in the first half but Toronto took a 54-53 lead into the break.
“They did a good job,” Casey said. “Once they saw it go through the hole, it was contagious.”
The pace picked up in the second half and Lowry helped energize the sellout crowd of 19,800 with a three-pointer to give Toronto a 79-77 lead. Sean Kilpatrick hit a running jumper at the buzzer to cut the Raptors’ lead to 90-89 after three quarters.
Toronto went on to improve its record to 7-0 against Atlantic Division opponents.
“We know we’ve got to play better,” said Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds. “But at the same time we’ve got to try to be the team that we know we are and don’t try to play down to the level of the competition.”
The Nets have lost their last six meetings against the Raptors.
Overall, the Nets hit 17 of 35 three-point attempts (48.6 per cent) while the Raptors were 11 of 28 (39.3 per cent). Toronto shot 55.3 per cent overall to 47.1 per cent for Brooklyn.
Notes: Raptors forward Patrick Patterson was given the night off to rest his sore left knee. He appeared hobbled at times over his 20 minutes of court time on Tuesday. … Raptors guard Delon Wright (shoulder) and forward Jared Sullinger (foot) have been cleared to participate in team practices. … Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman was in attendance. … The Raptors will close out their four-game homestand Sunday against the New York Knicks. The Nets will continue their road swing with a stop in Houston that day.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press