Raptors' DeRozan looks to impress against Nets
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A week ago, DeMar DeRozan set a team record with a dazzling 52-point performance during an overtime victory against the Milwaukee Bucks to continue his outstanding season.
The two follow-ups to DeRozan's historic performance were not record-setting but still effective as the Toronto Raptors kept winning.
DeRozan seeks another productive showing Monday when Toronto visits the Brooklyn Nets.
DeRozan enters the game averaging 25 points while shooting 48.7 percent and a career-best 36.8 percent from 3-point range. His scoring average is the veteran guard's second highest, his shooting percentage is also his second best only surpassed by the 49.8 percent mark as a rookie when he averaged 8.6 points in 21.6 minutes in 2009-10.
Last Monday in a 131-127 win, DeRozan broke the mark set by Vince Carter by shooting 17 of 29 from the field and hitting 5 of 9 3-pointers.
In the two games since breaking Carter's record, DeRozan has piled up 55 points on 17 of 32 from the field. The Raptors posted a 124-115 win at Chicago Wednesday followed by a 129-110 victory at Milwaukee Friday.
"He's the face of the Raptors, and rightfully so," Toronto coach Dwane Casey told reporters Friday. "He's a quality man. He represents the Raptors, he's proud to be a Toronto Raptor and that says a lot for him. And he carries himself the right way."
DeRozan has 21 games with 25 or more points and Toronto is 19-2. In 19 games, DeRozan has made at least half his shots the Raptors are 17-2.
Those performances are contributing to Toronto going 10-2 in its last 12 games. DeRozan is averaging 28.8 points, on 50.7 percent shooting and 48.2 percent from 3-point range since Dec. 11.
In Toronto's latest win, DeRozan scored 14 of his 20 in a dominant third quarter while Jonas Valanciunas scored all 20 of his points in the third. During the third quarter, Toronto outscored Milwaukee 43-19 by shooting 68 percent (17 of 25) and outrebounded the Bucks 18-2.
One of Toronto's wins during this stretch was a 120-87 home win over the Nets Dec. 15 when the Raptors shot 55.7 percent while DeRozan totaled 31 points on 14 of 19 from the field.
It was Toronto's ninth straight win in the series dating to April 3, 2015.
Brooklyn's loss to Toronto was part of a 1-7 skid from Dec. 14-27 when it allowed 109.6 points per game and opponents to shoot 49.9 percent. Starting with a 111-87 win at Miami on Dec. 29, the Nets are 3-2 in their last five games while allowing 94.8 points.
The Nets are coming off a tough 87-85 home loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday. They recorded a season-best 11 blocks and outrebounded Boston 55-44 and allowed less than 100 points only to see it negated by a season-worst 33 percent showing on offense.
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 20 points and is averaging 23 points on 55.2 percent (16 of 29) shooting in the last two games. He also will be playing Monday with a guaranteed contract for the rest of the season since Sunday was the deadline for teams to waive players with non-guaranteed deals.
Dinwiddie may be a little lighter in the checkbook at some point after being vocal about his thoughts on the officiating following a few non-calls down the stretch on Saturday.
"Calls are missed, but when you approach somebody, and they shush you or wave you off like you're not a man, that's also very frustrating," Dinwiddie said. "To already be in a position of feeling like you're not getting the same respect, whether true or false, it is an opinion. But time after time to be shushed like you're not a man, those are the things that are really frustrating for guys on this team, especially in games that are so hard-fought that come down to the last second."
Despite falling short to the best team in the East, the Nets now get to see if they can handle another elite team.
"If we keep it there, we're in a good way," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "We'll win a lot more games than people think. I just hope we can continue that consistency."
The Nets may be forced to face Toronto somewhat shorthanded. Former Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll injured his knee on the final play Saturday and is out while backup point guard Caris LeVert is probable after sitting for two games with a groin injury.
Updated January 7, 2018