Nets aim for fourth season win over Raptors

(AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

The surging Brooklyn Nets will try to extend their winning streak to five games Friday night when they visit the struggling Toronto Raptors.

The Nets, who have won eight of their past nine games, could have Royce O'Neale back in the lineup Friday after he had missed two games for personal reasons.

The Raptors have dropped three in a row for the first time this season after losing 124-123 to the visiting Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

Brooklyn has won all three games with Toronto this season.

The Raptors continued to have problems in shooting 3-pointers on Wednesday, going 6 for 21 (28.6 percent).

Fred VanVleet, who scored a season-best 39 points, missed a 3-point attempt in the final seconds that would have tied the game. It missed and Toronto settled for Pascal Siakam's layup.

VanVleet was 2 for 8 in 3-point attempts.

Sacramento was 17 for 46 (37 percent) in 3-pointers.

"We didn't do a very good job for a lot of the second quarter on keeping the ball in front of us," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

"There were a lot of paint touches by them and then kickouts, a lot of transition happening as well. They were throwing it in and getting some quick looks early. Just probably not guarding the ball was the chain reaction that was starting a lot of that."

The Raptors have lost six of their past eight games.

"It's up to that individual character," VanVleet said. "Coming in and having short-term memory but, obviously, understanding that it's not acceptable, and to come in and try to get better. Work on your game, watch film and lock in. But I believe in this group and we'll figure it out."

An encouraging sign for the Raptors was the play of reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, who has been struggling. He had 27 points and matched his career best with 10 assists.

"This was a very winnable game," Barnes said. "I feel like we should have won this one."

O.G. Anunoby (hip) will miss his third consecutive games for Toronto.

The Nets will be playing for the first time since a 112-100 road victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday.

Kevin Durant scored 30 points and Kyrie Irving had 24 for Brooklyn.

Irving has been a big part of the Nets' recent success with his aggressive play.

"He is extremely engaged," coach Jacque Vaughn said on Wednesday.

"Jacque's made it very clear that if you're not playing hard enough, you're going to hear about it," Irving said. "We've got guys on the bench that are willing to go out and do those things. It makes you take advantage of the time you're out there."

The Nets are 15-7 since Vaughn replaced Steve Nash.

"Jacque is doing a great job of making adjustments throughout a game," Durant said. "I've liked the brand of basketball we've played on both ends of the floor. Regardless of who is on the court, we still played our system."

Vaughn likes what he is seeing.

"When I first got this job, I said I was going to keep things extremely simple, and it was going to be about basketball." Vaughn said.

"And I know for Kevin, those are two things that are extremely important. The things that are going on outside of basketball, we try not to even touch on. When we come to the gym, it's about this group getting better."

Toronto is 10-4 at home. Brooklyn is 7-7 on the road, including one win in Toronto.

--Field Level Media

Updated December 16, 2022