Raptors’ starters get their work done early in rout of improving Nets
|Toronto Star 12 Jan 2019 at 09:42|
It ended with the Toronto Raptors’ starters sitting on the bench and cheering, their work long done before the final buzzer at the Scotiabank Arena on Friday night.
It was a tidy win, a professional outing, a lopsided affair that afforded the team’s top players some rest.
They had done their work early to power Toronto to a 122-105 pasting of the Brooklyn Nets. Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Pascal Siakam 16 points, Serge Ibaka 14. Kyle Lowry four points and eight assists. Danny Green had eight points and four assists. None played more than 27 minutes.
The game turned when Toronto turned on the defence. The Nets made six three-pointers and scored 35 points in the first quarter before the Raptors buckled down and took control.
“Our transition defence started out kind of poor and we started showing a little bit more length and deflections,” Nurse said. “We got a lot of tip-outs and run-outs from primarily playing good defence. We started getting to the rim a little bit more, we started moving the ball. I think we ended up with 32 assists tonight, which is a big number.”
Toronto led by 11 at halftime, and by 24 after three quarters. The fourth was basically a contest between backups looking to impress the coaches.
It didn’t go too well for the Raptors who were in that role when the Nets went on a 14-0 run to get within a manageable 13 points with about five minutes left. But Toronto settled down without having to put a starter back in and won going away.
D’Angelo Russell had 24 points to lead the Nets.
For a team that was mired in the bottom four of the league in three-point efficiency just over a week ago, it’s a stark turnaround.
“We think we stay with it, you keep giving guys confidence, you look at the shots and you evaluate them pretty closely and they look like they’re pretty good,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said before the game.
“You tell those guys to make ’em and keep taking ’em, let’s make sure we’re taking the right ones and most of ’em are the right ones.”
Nurse appreciates what they’re doing.
“It’s a good team, man, 13-4 in their last 17 (before Friday),” the coach said. “Somebody should talk about that. Everybody should talk about it, 13-4 in their last 17. I’ve been hearing about Boston’s 15-5, Boston’s 15-5; 13-4’s pretty good, too.”