Raptors come home to take on Nets
TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors finished a tough stretch of 10 games in 16 days and they hope to use a three-game homestand to their advantage beginning Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets at the Air Canada Centre.
"Rest is going to be our friend," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said after the 132-129 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night in Cleveland. "We have to take these games and learn from them, learn from the situations where we have to be disciplined. It's not a huge thing."
The Nets (23-49) are coming off a 111-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets when they squandered 23-point lead on Wednesday at Barclays Center.
The Nets, who still led by 10 points with four minutes to play, were outscored 18-2 down the stretch.
"Just disappointed," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "Sixty-eight-point second half and 36 in the fourth. We'd done a great job the last two games locking down in the fourth quarter and (Wednesday) we didn't do it.
"Dwight Howard (32 points, 30 rebounds) had a monster game. We never found a solution to combating their physicality in the second half. They physically overwhelmed us."
The Eastern Conference-leading Raptors (53-19) also had a good lead in their game in Cleveland, up 79-64 after the first half despite allowing 42 first-quarter points. The 79 points tied a franchise record for a first half. The Raptors also did it in 1997 against the Nets.
"It was a trash game by us," said Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who scored 24 points. "They shot 60 percent from the field. It was a disgraceful display of defense by us and we've got to be better than that."
It was the second loss in three games for the Raptors, who also lost a close game to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday at the ACC.
"I thought it was a great game, a great battle," Casey said of the game with the Cavaliers. "We've got to learn from things we can do, what we can't do. I thought we played the way we wanted to play in the first half, made shots, played with force. I thought in the second half they dictated tempo, the style of play, and we didn't adjust to it."
One Nets player who might see more action Friday is forward Dante Cunningham, who returned to action Wednesday after missing two games under concussion protocol.
Cunningham held Howard to 19 points and seven rebounds March 8 when the Nets defeated the Hornets.
"We talked about putting Dante in there (Wednesday), and quite honestly, that's on me," Atkinson said. "I didn't feel comfortable, and he hadn't really practiced because he was in the protocol.
"We debated it and decided against it and wanted to give Jarrett (Allen) a run at it and (Quincy Acy) a run at it. That was something we definitely could have done differently."
The Raptors have won their past 11 games against the Nets, including three this season, most recently a 116-102 verdict March 13 when their center Jonas Valanciunas had 26 points and 14 rebounds.
The Nets led 74-59 after Cunningham's layup in the opening minutes of the second half. Toronto then went on a 15-0 run and had a 29-17 fourth-quarter advantage.
The Raptors have the best home record in the NBA this season at 29-6. They need three more wins to tie the season franchise record of 56 victories set in 2015-16.
The Raptors have made at least 10 three-pointers in a franchise-record 14 consecutive games (Feb. 26-March 21).
Raptors forward-guard C.J. Miles missed the game Wednesday with gastroenteritis and is listed as questionable for Friday.
Updated March 22, 2018