Much better this time.
After Tuesday’s embarrassing loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn faced a shorthanded opponent on the road for the second straight night. The Toronto Raptors are without All-Stars Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, last year’s Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, and Otto Porter Jr., Precious Achiuva and Darano banton.
After a slow first half, the Nets won their ninth game of the season, 112-98. Brooklyn is now up 9-10.
Despite a mediocre first half, Kyrie Irving was strong in the second half, scoring 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 from 3-point range. Of his total points, 26 came in the second half, his third-highest scoring half with the Nets.
Ben Simmons made another promising appearance, finishing with 14 points and six assists on 7-for-9 shooting. He plays defense as good as the Nets, flocking to Toronto’s ball handler, Gary Trent Jr. And Malachi Flynn — finished with 3 steals and 2 blocks.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant had a quiet game by his standards, scoring 12 points, but passed Kevin Garnett’s 26,071 points for 18th on the all-time scoring list. Durant’s next opponent is John Havlicek with 26,395 points. Despite the low output, KD leads the Nets with a +30 rating.
All five of Brooklyn’s starters scored in double digits. Nic Claxton recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Royce O’Neale hit a season-best five three-pointers with 15 points. Brooklyn also had 32 assists on 45 field goal attempts, its fourth straight game with 30+ assists.
Inside defense is the Nets’ main strength, especially in the second half, when Brooklyn — the most denied Nets in the league — totaled 11 blocks to the Raptors’ two. They also limited outside shooting opportunities, holding the Raptors to 24.1 percent on just 29 long-range attempts. The Nets, meanwhile, are shooting 54.9 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from 3-point range.
Brooklyn’s offensive jumper is impactful. Simmons continued his strong performance, scoring 4 points and 1 steal in the early game, which is the main reason why the Nets scored 6 points in the early game fast break. Clarkston was also strong, he played well in the penalty area, scored 6 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks. Their Nets built a 21-12 lead six minutes earlier.
Brooklyn maintained that advantage until Cam Thomas reported late in the quarter. Thomas quickly scored four points and an assist, but then gave up a corner three with the help of a strong team. This is the yin and yang of relying on young players. Brooklyn ended the first quarter with a 38-26 lead.
Toronto started the second quarter on a 13-0 run with Gary Trent Jr. on the court. Start getting it going. Meanwhile, offensive rebounding remained an issue for the Nets after a brutal night in Philadelphia, in which the Raptors grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in a quarter and a half. So, for most of the stretch, things basically came to a knot as neither team could find any rhythm.
Edmond Sumner came on at the 5:34 mark of the second quarter and scored a quick layup while cutting from the weak side, then scored at the 6 thanks to excellent point defense. That gave the Nets a seven-point lead. Unfortunately, Brooklyn dropped the ball twice in a row (on one of the culprits of one of his five first-half turnovers), and Toronto evened things up. Despite shooting just 18 percent from 3-point range in the first half, the Raptors trailed just 52-51 against Brooklyn after two quarters.
brooklyn at last started in the third quarter. Kyrie Irving broke his silence with a pull-up 2, a 3-pointer and a layup on the fast break. After starting to increase their efforts in the second half, the Nets played a 10-0 climax.
The Nets continued to dump in the third quarter. Kyrie shot from left to right, and Ben Simmons wreaked havoc on the Raptors’ ball handler with two steals. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant turned up his defensive intensity and made multiple shots at the rim, blocking three consecutive shots. With the efforts of the three stars, the Nets expanded their lead 91-76 and ended the third quarter.
Brooklyn continued to maintain a high-intensity defense in the fourth quarter. Royce O’Neale made two steals and Brooklyn’s lead suddenly stretched to 20. The Nets never looked back, crossing the finish line with a 14-point lead.
KD passes to KG. With his 10th point to start the second half, Kevin Durant (12) scored his 26,072 career points, passing Kevin Garnett (26,071) for 18th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list bit. Next up: John Havlicek (26,395 points).
The Nets dished out 32 assists, the first time since March 1987 that they had four consecutive games with 30 or more assists.
Brooklyn travels to Indiana on Friday after tying the season series 1-1 earlier this season. Coverage begins at 8:00 pm ET on the YES Network.
For a different perspective on tonight’s game, head to the Raptors’ sister site, Raptors Headquarters.