TORONTO – Kyle Lowry poured in 31 points while DeMar DeRozan added 30 to lift the Toronto Raptors to their fifth straight win Monday, a 112-100 victory over the beleaguered Brooklyn Nets.
It was a fitting performance by the duo on a night announcers reminded fans to vote the Raptors into next month’s NBA all-star game in Toronto.
DeRozan’s big game came hours after he was named one of 30 finalists for the U.S. Olympic team.
Terrence Ross added 12 for Toronto (26-15), while Patrick Patterson finished with 12.
Brook Lopez topped the Nets (11-31) with 29 points, while Joe Johnson added 22.
The Raptors were playing their first of seven games at home, finally back after an 11-day road trip that culminated with a 106-103 overtime win versus Orlando at London last Thursday.
Toronto’s win streak started with a 91-74 win at Brooklyn on June 6. Since then, the struggling Nets fired coach Lionel Hollins and reassigned general manager Billy King. Assistant Tony Brown is serving as the interim head coach, and the team remains without a GM.
But the Raptors never led by more than nine points, and trailed 84-81 heading into the fourth quarter. A thrilling 10-0 Raptors run that Lowry capped by draining a three-pointer with 3:34 to play finally gave Toronto some breathing room, and a 108-98 lead.
The Raptors would stretch their advantage to 14 points, and in the final minute coach Dwane Casey subbed his starters out of the game to a loud ovation.
Monday was Martin Luther King Day in the U.S., and both teams wore “MLK” in honour of the civil rights activist.
“As a young boy growing up in small-town rural Kentucky, I’ve seen far more than I needed to see and experience as far as segregation and discrimination,” Casey said. “I think the NBA has done a great job of recognizing (what King’s work meant for the league), and making sure that stays in the forefront, because I wouldn’t be standing right here right now if it wasn’t for him.”
The Raptors got off to a slow start, allowing the Nets to shoot 58 per cent in the first quarter. Joe Johnson scored 13 points in the frame, and the Nets took a 29-19 lead into the second.
Toronto roared back in the second and went ahead by a point when Lowry drilled a three with six minutes remaining. But Lopez had three baskets and a pair of big rebounds over the final 2:21 and the Raptors went into the halftime dressing room with a narrow 52-49 lead.
© 2016 The Canadian Press