Nets better, but not good enough in Toronto
Brooklyn squanders fourth-quarter lead to Raptors
Twenty-four hours made a world of difference for the Brooklyn Nets.
It just didn’t result in a victory.
One night after getting blown out in Brooklyn, the Nets squandered an eight-point fourth-quarter lead en route to a disappointing but encouraging 109-108 loss to the Toronto Raptors in front of 18,903 fans at Scotiabank Arena.
James Johnson scored 19 points, Seth Curry added 18 and LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 16 for the Nets (31-30), who have lost 15 of their last 18 games and three of four since the All-Star break.
“Should have won,” Aldridge lamented. “We had control. … We got some tough calls down the stretch and that was the game.”
One night after losing by 36 points to the Raptors (34-27), the Nets showed plenty of fight throughout the evening.
They led 89-81 after three quarters and 96-90 with just under five and a half minutes remaining.
But Toronto answered with a 10-0 run and battled back-and-forth with the undermanned Nets until Gary Trent Jr.’s free throws with just over 30 seconds to go gave the Raptors the lead for good, 105-103.
“When you lose, you always have to give credit to them,” Aldridge noted.
“I thought we had some looks that didn’t fall down. Shots that I take 10 times out of 10, but we were missing some shots and they were trying to take us out of our stuff too.”
Trent Jr. finished with a game-high 24 points and rookie Scottie Barnes, who torched the Nets for 28 points at Downtown’s Barclays Center Monday, added 18 as the Raptors finished the back-to-back sweep and moved three games ahead of Brooklyn for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
The seventh to 10 seeds in the East will participate in a play-in tournament just to earn a postseason berth, something the Nets would like to avoid after boasting the best record in the conference on Jan. 22, seven days after Kevin Durant went down with a knee injury.
Rookie Cam Thomas had 11 points and Goran Dragic added 10 for the Nets, who will host Miami at Barclays on Thursday.
Durant, out with a sprained medial collateral ligament, might be back when the Heat hit the Brooklyn hardwood.
The two-time NBA Finals MVP won’t have Kyrie Irving by his side as his fellow superstar is still restricted from playing home games due to New York City’s vaccination mandates.
Also, the Nets are still waiting for Ben Simmons to suit up for his Brooklyn debut and head coach Steve Nash was unavailable Tuesday as he continues to go through COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s gonna take everything. Maximize every day for us. Try to win,” Aldridge added.
“I’m not watching the standings, it’s more about us.”
NOTHING BUT NET: Andre Drummond sat out Tuesday’s game for Brooklyn with a sore left knee, but fill-in head coach Jacques Vaughn indicated that the injury is not serious. … After hosting the Heat Thursday, the Nets will embark on a three-game road trip, beginning with Sunday’s visit to Boston.
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