Raptors at Nets
The Toronto Raptors are beginning to gain some separation in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Following a win over the New York Knicks in Manhattan, the Raptors take their eight-game winning streak to Brooklyn on Tuesday to face the Nets.
The 132-106 dismantling of the Knicks - coupled with a loss by the Boston Celtics - gave Toronto a season-high 3 1/2-game lead in the East with 16 to play, although two are against the Celtics. "We just want to hoop, man," All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan told reporters at Madison Square Garden following a rocky 4-for-16 shooting effort. "Every time we get an opportunity to hoop, we're going out there and doing what we know how to do and that's to play, whether if it's an early game, a late game, whatever it may be. No matter who we're playing." The Raptors have had no issues playing the Nets of late by winning 10 straight matchups, although they needed overtime to survive 114-113 in their most recent visit to Brooklyn on Jan. 8. The Nets opened a two-game homestand with a 23-point loss to Philadelphia on Sunday and remain tangled with five other teams near the bottom of the East.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN 1/4 (Toronto), YES (Brooklyn)
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (49-17): DeRozan can afford some down games more than most other stars due to the fact that Toronto's bench continues to dominate, outscoring the Knicks' reserves by a whopping 69-29 margin. CJ Miles led the effort with 13 points in 18 minutes while Pascal Siakam had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in the same amount of time. "It's great," DeRozan said of the bench. "For us to be able to get rest will definitely benefit us in the long run. It's great to see those guys playing and for us to sit and be cheerleaders."
ABOUT THE NETS (21-46): Brooklyn performed admirably on a recent five-game road trip by losing three games by single digits, competing well with the defending champion Golden State Warriors and finishing it off with a win at Charlotte, but it fell flat in the return home. "I just feel like we've got to treat every team like Golden State. When we came out ready to play, everybody stepped up," guard D'Angelo Russell told the media. "It wasn't 48 minutes, but we started the game and gave ourselves a chance [in Golden State]. I feel like today we didn't really give ourselves a chance." Russell scored 26 points against the Sixers and hit the 20-point mark in three of his last six games.
1. DeRozan is averaging 33 points on 57.1 percent from the field through the first two meetings.
2. Nets SF DeMarre Carroll was 1-for-9 from the floor against Philadelphia after shooting 51.6 percent on the road trip.
3. Toronto scored at least 100 points in 19 straight games, one shy of matching the franchise record accomplished in 2010.