The Toronto Raptors (32-12) won their seventh consecutive home game Friday night as they cruised past the Brooklyn Nets (21-23) 122-105.
Toronto trailed by seven points after one but outscored Brooklyn 94-70 in the final three frames to win in convincing fashion. The Raptors led by as many as 26 points on the night.
For more on how they turned things around after the first period, here are four takeaways from the Raptors win:
A familiar lineup returns
For the first time since Dec. 9 and just the 15th time through 44 games, the Raptors employed a starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka.
Entering Friday night, Toronto was 10-4 with this starting unit.
With the win, this five now stands at 11-4 on the season when starting, and none of its members played in the fourth quarter. While Lowry and Green had relatively quiet nights scoring-wise, the frontcourt made its presence felt. Kawhi Leonard led the way with 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, Pascal Siakam added 16 points to go along with six rebounds while Serge Ibaka finished the night with 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Nick Nurse has shown a tendency to experiment with different lineups - this will continue to reign true with rest and Jonas Valanciunas's impending return from injury - tonight's starters could very well be the main lineup the team resorts to, specifically in the postseason.
Bench provides a boost
Aside from an uninspiring stretch in the fourth quarter - when the game looked to be out of reach for the Nets, the Raptors bench put forth a very impressive effort and had a major impact on the game.
Five different reserves finished the night scoring in double figures: OG Anunoby and Norman Powell led the way with 13 points apiece, Delon Wright added 12 points, while Greg Monroe and Fred VanVleet each scored 10 points. VanVleet also added six assists, the most among the reserves, who finished with 13 assists as a unit.
VanVleet (3-for-5), Anunoby (2-for-3) and Wright (1-for-3) combined to shoot 6-for-11 from 3-point range.
Toronto's bench finished the night outscoring Brooklyn's second unit 60-51 - a figure that was slightly impacted by the amount of time the Nets reserves spent on the floor after the game had gotten out of hand.
The Raptors' bench was looked at as a major question mark following the Bucks game last weekend but the unit has responded appropriately since.
The transition game
The Raptors' ability to get out and execute in the open floor proved to be another major difference in their 17-point win over the Nets - they finished the night outscoring Brooklyn 35-10 in fast break points.
Toronto converted the 17 Brooklyn turnovers into 20 points. Additionally, the team showed off its ability to connect on transition threes.
21 of the Raptors 35 transition points came from deep and seven of their 11 3-pointers on the night were made on the break. As the 3-pointer is an important key to unlocking Toronto's offence to open things up elsewhere, it's a good sign that all the team needs is a bit of space in transition to knock them down.
Extra pass pays off
Making the extra pass has been a point of emphasis and a major key to the Raptors' success so far this year, tonight proved to be no different.
Led by eight assists from Kyle Lowry, Toronto finished the game assisting on 32 of its 48 made field goals. Lowry was one of four different players to finish with at least four assists (VanVleet, Leonard, Green).
Assisted buckets are often an indication of high-percentage shots and promote the flow of the team's offence.
Passing up good shots for great looks becomes infectious and incorporates multiple players as evidenced by the eight players scoring in double figures on Friday.
As the team continues to reincorporate players from injury and fiddle with their lineups, it is increasingly important that they continue to move the ball as efficiently as it has been recently, especially against the tougher defensive teams in the league.