Raptors Rip Nets At Home To Snap Two-Game Slide

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December 18, 2009

TORONTO (CP) -- After consecutive road losses in Miami and Orlando, the Toronto Raptors got just what they needed Friday: a visit from the lowly New Jersey Nets.

Using a big first half, a season-best 18 points from reserve forward Amir Johnson and 16 each from Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors trounced the Nets 118-95.

The Raptors never trailed New Jersey and led 70-33 at the break in front of 15,901 at Air Canada Centre.

``Our guys from the jump ball did a great job,'' said Raptors coach Jay Triano. ``I thought we pressured the basketball, caused turnovers and had more deflections tonight than we have had all year.

``I think that led to great energy going the other way and we started making shots.''

Hedo Turkoglu and reserve guard Marcus Banks each scored 14 points for the Raptors, who led 94-60 after three quarters. Jarrett Jack added nine assists for Toronto (12-17), while Turkoglu chipped in with seven of his own.

Chris Douglas-Roberts led the Nets (2-25) with 16 points, while Brook Lopez added 14.

``It was good pressure defensively that created opportunities for us,'' added Triano, who said he was pleased with the way the Raptors returned to a more aggressive defensive approach.

After beating Houston at home last Sunday with strong defence, the Raptors were lacking in that area in the road losses to the Heat on Tuesday and the Magic on Wednesday.

Not only did the Raptors hold the Nets to 15 points in the first quarter on Friday, they poured in 39 of their own, while shooting 65 per cent from the field.

The Raptors scored 10 of their first-quarter points on the fast break against the defensively deficient Nets. DeRozan scored 10 points in the opening quarter with efforts that included a slam dunk and an alley-oop. Bosh and Bargnani each scored eight in the opening quarter and Jack picked up five assists.

``We were very active,'' Bosh said. ``Guys were talking. We stuck to our coverages.''

Bosh's 14 points led all scorers at the break and Bargnani had 12 as Toronto rested many of its starters in the second half.

``Coach Jay said it from the beginning that the game was about making ourselves better,'' said Johnson, who also had seven rebounds.

``It didn't matter if they scored, we just needed to work on our defence and really lock in. That is what we did and I think we had 20-something deflections.''

The Raptors succeeded in putting the game away after building an early lead, something they haven't always been able to do much this season.

``We would like it to happen more because (then) we are up more,'' Triano said. ``I thought for the most part throughout three quarters we did what we wanted to do as far as our aggressiveness and the way we wanted to play.''

Bosh added that he hopes the Raptors use Friday's win as a springboard.

``I hope this gives us confidence. I hope this shows what we can do when we apply ourselves,'' said Bosh. ``We know (the Nets) are struggling right now but it's still the NBA and they're still a basketball team and everybody gets paid to do a job.''

Meanwhile, Douglas-Roberts was blunt in his assessment of New Jersey's performance.

``Pitiful, horrible,'' he said. ``Horrible effort. Awful. Everything about it from the beginning, there were no signs. I didn't take anything positive from this.''