Nets open homestand against improving Raptors

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The Brooklyn Nets enjoyed a successful road trip thanks to their defensive abilities in the fourth quarter.

Now comes a home-heavy slate, and the Nets look to transfer their ability to win on the road to their home court starting Tuesday night when they oppose the Toronto Raptors.

The Nets are starting a stretch in which they play 12 of their next 17 at home after winning three of four games on a trip through Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Detroit. They won the three games Kevin Durant played in by outscoring the Mavericks, Hawks and Pistons by a combined 81-41 margin in the final 12 minutes.

Durant scored 51 points Sunday and the Nets outscored Detroit 30-13 in the final quarter for a 116-104 win on a night when they rested James Harden.

The Nets are 11-3 at home as compared with an 8-5 mark outside of Brooklyn. In its last home game, Brooklyn blew an 11-point, second-half lead and was outscored 32-25 in the final period of a 111-107 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 4.

“We want to start building that advantage for ourselves,” Durant said. “That starts in the regular season, our fans getting on board with us and us going out there and giving them a great product out there on the floor. That means a lot. So that is the main focus: Take care of home.”

Conversely, the Nets are hoping to avoid falling into the deficits they overcame before earning wins. In Dallas, they came back from 17 down, and they erased an 11-point deficit in Atlanta before overcoming a seven-point deficit in Detroit.

“We’d love to get off to good starts and keep leads,” Harden said. “But it’s a long season and we understand things happen and you could get down double digits, but as long as we try to give ourselves a chance — and it starts on the defensive end — more times than not, we can find a way to win.”

Toronto heads to Brooklyn with a chance at reaching the .500 mark for the first time since it was 7-7 following a loss to Detroit on Nov. 13. The Raptors are 4-1 in their past five games after posting a wire-to-wire, 124-101 win over the visiting Sacramento Kings on Monday.

Toronto topped 120 points for the third time this season. Since the margin grew as big as 31 points, no Raptor played more than 32 minutes.

Chris Boucher led the Raptors with 17 points, marking his fourth straight game in double figures. Pascal Siakam and rookie Scottie Barnes added 16 apiece. It marked the 10th straight game in double figures for Barnes since he was held to two points on Nov. 19 in Sacramento.

“I thought we came out with a professional approach, set the tone early, and we were just able to control it from there,” Toronto guard Fred VanVleet said. “Everybody that stepped on the court tonight contributed in a major way.”

The Raptors are winning lately even with VanVleet struggling from the field. He shot 5 of 12 on Monday and is shooting 33.3 percent (19 of 57) in his past four games since scoring 29 in a four-point win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 2.

The Nets took the first meeting of the season with the Raptors when they posted a 116-103 win in Toronto on Nov. 7. Durant scored 31 points and Harden added 28, while VanVleet paced the Raptors with 21 points.

–Field Level Media

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