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Raptors aim to cool off hot Nets
The Brooklyn Nets already have one victory over the Toronto Raptors this season.
They will try to repeat the feat Friday night when they visit Scotiabank Arena.
The Raptors have won 12 of the past 13 meetings with the Nets, including six in a row at home. Brooklyn defeated the visiting Raptors 106-105 in overtime on Dec. 7.
While Toronto has a lofty 31-12 record, the Nets have a better recent record despite a 21-22 mark.
The Nets, after recording a 116-100 comeback victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, are 13-4 over their past 17 games, their best stretch since March 9 to April 8, 2014. The Raptors are 10-7 in the same span, despite winning three in a row.
The Raptors faced the Hawks on Tuesday. Trailing 101-98 with 2:15 remaining, Toronto scored the final six points to win 104-101.
"We were trying to get away from them, and we never really could," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "And we were down late there and had to make a couple stops and a couple scores, and we did both of those things. Pretty good, pretty good. Lucky we got the win."
The Nets trailed by 19 points against the Hawks but took charge of the game, led by 23 points from D'Angelo Russell. He has scored at least 20 points in 19 games, matching his single-season best.
"We've got a good group," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "I hate repeating this, but I don't think we win that game last year or the year before. I thought we really locked down, showed a lot of maturity."
The Nets did not win their 21st game last season until March 8.
Brooklyn overcame a poor first quarter that finished with Atlanta leading 38-23.
"That's where the veteran leadership comes in," said Nets guard Joe Harris, who had 16 points and nine rebounds Wednesday.
"Guys like J.D. (Jared Dudley) and DeMarre (Carroll) and Ed (Davis), they're the ones who are vocalizing. They're talking about aspirations that we have for this team. We can't have these lapses if we want to get where we're trying to go.
"I think considering where we've been, where we're at now says a lot about the team. A lot of it rests with those veteran guys."
The Raptors will complete a three-game homestand against the Nets and will be trying for a season-best seventh consecutive home victory.
Over their past three games, the Raptors have made 42.7 percent of their 3-point attempts (41 of 96).
The Raptors also have been doing it with defense. They matched a franchise record with 18 steals against Atlanta, with seven players recording at least one and Kawhi Leonard leading with a season-best six. Kyle Lowry had four steals to become the first player in franchise history with 700 in a career.
The last time Toronto had 18 steals in a game was Feb. 25, 1997, at the Denver Nuggets in overtime.
Leonard and Lowry were playing in the same game together on Wednesday for the first time since Dec. 9. Lowry had missed 10 of 11 games before returning Sunday, when Leonard had been rested for the second game of the back-to-back set.
The Raptors are 16-6 when Leonard and Lowry play in the game. Leonard had 31 points Tuesday while Lowry scored 16.
Leonard said it might take a while for the regular starting lineup to settle in because of the lack of playing time together.
"I believe so, but we've all been here," Leonard said. "We all know the type of team we are."
Toronto has used 13 starting combinations this season after using 12 lineups last season. Twelve players have started at least one game for Toronto this season.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 10, 2019