TORONTO — Kyle Lowry scored 23 points to lift Toronto to a 116-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, the Raptors' 12 victory in their last 14 appearances.
DeMar DeRozan, who was coming off Eastern Conference player of the week honours and leads the East in scoring, managed just 15 points on 6-of-20 shooting for Toronto (20-8).
But his teammates made up for his off night, as Norman Powell scored a season-high 21 points, DeMarre Carroll had 17, Jonas Valanciunas grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to go with 10 points and Cory Joseph chipped in with 11 points as the Raptors roared to their 15th consecutive game with 100-plus points.
Rondae Hollis-Hefferson had 19 points to top the Nets (7-20), who played without starting centre Brook Lopez — he took the night off for rest.
Making their final home appearance of 2016, the Raptors let the Nets hang around for the better part of the first half, but finally put some distance on Brooklyn with a 17-3 run to end the second quarter.
DeRozan struggled mightily in the third, missing all six of his shots, but Lowry and Carroll made up for it with their 14 points combined and the Raptors took a 91-72 lead into the fourth quarter.
Their big lead at least allowed DeRozan to rest the fourth quarter, while Lowry exited the game with six minutes left as the Raptors' staff manages the minutes of their two all-stars.
A three-pointer by Anthony Bennett, the Brampton, Ont., native and former Raptor, cut Toronto's lead to 16 points with 2:28 to play, but the game was already well in hand. Raptors coach Dwane Casey emptied his bench, sending Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet into the game — to the delight of the Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,800 — just hours after they played for Raptors 905 in a D-League matchup.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson had praised the Raptors before tipoff, saying he believes continuity is what has Toronto playing like a well-oiled machine.
"It's a team that's played together for awhile, they've been through a lot," Atkinson said. "I remember DeRozan when he was a young guy — he's still young. Now he's more and more comfortable, he's figured out the league. Lowry is obviously playing at a super high level, and he's shooting the ball great. I think when you keep a team together like that for a long time it pays dividends, and credit to them for keeping that group together."
The Raptors' previous appearance at the ACC was a lacklustre loss to Atlanta, thanks largely to their sluggish start. Casey stressed his team needed to play hard from the opening tipoff.
"We've got to go in locked in," Casey said before tipoff. "We weren't locked in in the Atlanta game for whatever reason."
The Raptors could only muster an eight-point first-quarter lead against the Nets, however, and headed into the second quarter with a 29-23 advantage.
Brooklyn outscored Toronto 5-0 to open the second, pulling to within a point, and the visitors were within four points with less than five minutes left in the half. Finally, the Raptors were able to put some distance on Brooklyn, ending the half with a 17-3 run that sent them into halftime with a 64-46 lead.
The Raptors open a six-game road trip on Friday in Utah.