The Toronto Raptors needed this home win heading into a tough four-game West Coast road trip and did a fantastic job containing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, stopping those two stars wasn't enough to keep down the rest of the Brooklyn Nets' roster, as Jeff Green, Blake Griffin and co. carried their weight to come away with a victory.
For more on a hard-fought loss, we have you covered with some thoughts below.
1. Lowry finding his 3-point touch
Since returning from his foot infection, Lowry has been way off the mark from 3-point range. After going 3-for-9 in his first game back, he shot 1-for-14 over the next two. Shooting 4-for-23 from beyond the arc over those three games, for a whopping 17.4 percent, the Raptors' floor general hadn't regained his touch just yet.
That finally changed in this one, as Lowry did the majority of his damage from long range. He finished with a team-high 24, knocking down an impressive six of his nine 3-point attempts.
KLow definitely called that pic.twitter.com/XQPewDcaKR- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 28, 2021
2. Containing Durant and Irving
The Raptors coaching staff had to be pleased with the defensive efforts on Brooklyn's two superstars Durant and Irving.
OG Anunoby did a stellar job on Durant, holding him to just seven shot attempts for the game. Durant still scored 17 points on those seven shots, but a job well done to make someone else beat you. As for Irving, it was a combination of Lowry and Fred VanVleet that drew that assignment, and they held the star guard to just nine points shooting 3-for-13 from the field and 1-for-5 from 3.
Irving had been on a tear coming into this game, making it an even more impressive feat that the Raptors were able to keep him in single-digit points.
However, the rest of the Nets' roster stepped up to help the team come away with a win. Jeff Green led the way with 22 points and eight rebounds while Blake Griffin was as solid as can be with 17 points and six rebounds. Joe Harris added 16 points, Landry Shamet had 14, and newly-acquired Mike James chipped in 11 points and eight assists off the bench.
Brooklyn's depth proved to be too much for Toronto to handle on a night where VanVleet shot 4-for-17 from the field and Pascal Siakam shot 2-for-16 from the field.
3. Anunoby's ever-developing offensive game
This may sound like a broken record, but the advancements in Anunoby's offensive game shine through each and every time he steps on the floor.
There were two instances of that in this one. First, this Dirk Nowitzki-esque fadeaway over Durant in the paint.
G in his bag tonight pic.twitter.com/RWstf4al7R- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 28, 2021
Secondly, he notched a career-high-tying six assists to help facilitate the Raptors' offence.
Anunoby has now scored 20 or more points in five-straight games, the longest stretch of his career.
4. Game of runs
The Raptors seemingly couldn't get over the hump in this one until as 12-2 run to end the third quarter turned things around to give them a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. This play below with countless unselfish decisions to find the best possible shot in an open Yuta Watanabe 3-pointer capped off that run.
Frame this play pic.twitter.com/PxWz0yjbBB- Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) April 28, 2021
But the Nets weren't going to roll over and call it quits. They responded by opening the fourth quarter on a 20-7 run to regain a lead they would never surrender. Durant would help close the door with seven points in the fourth quarter, but it was the reserve guard James who added all 11 of his points and six assists in the final frame to help put the game away.
MIKE JAMES!@TheNatural_05 | #BrooklynToether pic.twitter.com/vIPGDmncSS- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) April 28, 2021
Toronto played stout defence for three frames before allowing Brooklyn to shoot 68.4 percent from the field in the fourth quarter.
5. Second night of back-to-back struggles continue
The Raptors have been terrible on the end of back-to-backs all season, owning a 2-12 record on the second night.
6. The Raptors use same starting five in four-straight games for first time since February
Yes, you read that right.
The Raptors used a starting five of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Khem Birch for the fourth-straight game tonight. According to TSN's Josh Lewenberg, this marked the first time Toronto has used the same starting five in four consecutive games since February.
While it can be hard to explain just how injury - (and health and safety protocol) - riddled this Raptors team has been this season, there is nothing that depicts that more than having to use 28 (!) different starting lineups.
7. What's next?
The Raptors will have one day off before they travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets to kick off a West Coast road swing. The Nets will also have one day off before they travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers.
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