Nets look to stay hot against Raptors
(Sports Network) - Don't look now but the Brooklyn Nets are creeping up the Atlantic Division standings and have taken flight since P.J. Carlesimo took over coaching duties.
Brooklyn targets its seventh straight win when it welcomes the Toronto Raptors to Barclays Center Tuesday night in a matchup between division inhabitants.
The Nets improved to 8-1 under Carlesimo with a 97-86 triumph over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday as Deron Williams led the charge with a team-high 22 points and nine assists. Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez scored 20 and 15 points, respectively, for the Nets, who are unbeaten in the New Year and have won eight of nine overall.
"This was a big game for us, we had won five in a row, but most of them were against teams under .500," Williams said. "This was a good test for us, a good challenge against a good team. I'm glad we came ready and stepped up our game."
Brooklyn has won five in a row at home and owns a 14-7 record in their new digs this season. The Nets are 10-3 against teams from the East at home and 14-0 in games played against teams with a record below. 500.
The Nets have steadily improved under Carlesimo, scoring 101.8 ppg in the last nine as opposed to 94.5 ppg under Avery Johnson, and sit two games behind the New York Knicks in the Atlantic. After tonight's game the Nets will start a home-and-home series with a trip to Atlanta on Wednesday.
On the injury front for Brooklyn, forward Gerald Wallace (ribs) did not play against the Pacers and is questionable versus Toronto. He is averaging 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds this season.
Toronto just went 3-3 on a recent homestand and look to rain on Brooklyn's parade. The Raptors had won two straight and 10 of 13 games until sustaining a 107-96 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Sunday.
DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Amir Johnson contributed 22 points and 14 boards for the Raptors. Jose Calderon had 21 points and Ed Davis netted 20 in the loss.
"We got off to a great start, but our second unit got us out of rhythm," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "Our second unit has to learn how to come in and keep it going."
Johnson is averaging 18.3 points and 10.8 rebounds since cracking the starting lineup Jan. 6 versus Oklahoma City. Davis is posting averages of 13.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in that span, too. DeRozan averaged 16.2 ppg during the recent homestand and leads the Raptors with 17.9 ppg this season.
The Raptors will return home this evening for a showdown with Chicago scheduled for Wednesday.
Toronto has lost both of its meetings with Brooklyn this season and six of nine overall in the series. DeRozan is averaging 18.0 ppg in the two games against the Nets.
01/15 10:39:58 ET