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Mar 24, 2024 4:12 pm

Raptors, Nets will try to end lengthy skids in matchup

Cam Johnson Nets

One lengthy losing streak will end Monday night when the Brooklyn Nets visit the Toronto Raptors.

The undermanned Raptors (23-48) had their losing streak reach 10 games Saturday when they were defeated 112-109 by the host Washington Wizards.

The Nets (29-45) lost their sixth in a row Saturday, 105-93 to the host New York Knicks.

The Raptors open a four-game homestand on Monday while the Nets are playing the third of four consecutive away games. The teams have split their first two games with the home team prevailing each time.

The Raptors, who continue to be without such key players as Scottie Barnes (hand), Jakob Poeltl (finger), RJ Barrett (personal) and Immanuel Quickley (personal), came close to ending their skid on Saturday.

The Raptors led by as many as 11 points and were ahead by four entering the fourth quarter. The Wizards took the lead down the stretch. Toronto still had a chance to tie in the final seconds but Bruce Brown missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.

Gary Trent Jr. returned to the starting lineup on Saturday after missing one game with lower back stiffness and matched his season best with 31 points.

“I saw a lot of fight,” Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said. “We missed a layup, we missed wide-open shots, we missed a dunk. Obviously guys, they want to make those shots. They want to make the right decisions there. It did not go our way tonight.”

The Wizards had a 55-42 advantage in rebounds.

“We struggled with rebounding the ball,” Rajakovic said. “They scored some timely baskets and tough, contested shots. But the main difference in tonight’s game was rebounding.”

The Nets tied the Knicks at 80 with 11:44 remaining in the fourth quarter on Saturday on a 3-pointer by Dennis Smith Jr., but the Knicks pulled away by scoring 12 consecutive points. The Nets missed 11 straight shots after Smith tied the game.

“You have to counterpunch. … Talking, loose balls, offensive rebounding,” Nets interim coach Kevin Ollie said. “It has nothing to do with talent and it has nothing to do with the ball going in. It’s those little things we have to get better on, we have to double down on. That’s the only way we’re going to win. I talked to them about that: ‘How’s your stamina? Not just your wind, I mean from a competitive standpoint. That has to be there every single minute for us to win, and it wasn’t (Saturday).'”

“I agree. There’s gotta be kind of like a line drawn in the sand,” said Cam Johnson, who led the Nets with 19 points. “It’s just kind of one thing led to another that just piled up negatively, and it’s something that we’re susceptible to, something that happens to us often, but we don’t bounce back from it well.

“I think we just need to be a little more connected, a little bit more trust in each other. Valuing the ball, valuing offensive possessions, valuing defensive possessions, I think that’ll go a long way,” Johnson added.

One highlight in the game for the Nets was Mikal Bridges’ 62-foot heave to beat the first-half buzzer. It gave Brooklyn a 57-56 lead. Bridges finished with 18 points.

–Field Level Media

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