Nets-Raptors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 12, 2012
Coincidence or not, the Brooklyn Nets are in the midst of their worst stretch of the season while Brook Lopez nurses an injury. The struggling Toronto Raptors are dealing with their own woes, and they'll be without at least suspended forward Amir Johnson on Wednesday night when each team looks to snap a five-game losing streak in Canada. Lopez hoped his sprained right foot was healed enough to play Tuesday against New York, but he was ruled out before the game and is not scheduled to make the trip to Toronto. The Nets (11-9) have lost the last five of the six games Lopez has missed after blowing a 17-point lead in a 100-97 loss to the Knicks. Brooklyn shot 52.9 percent - its second-best mark of the season - but only 45.2 percent in the second half as New York took advantage. Andray Blatche, who is averaging 18.2 points starting in place of Lopez, hit 9 of 13 from the field and scored a season-high 23 points. Deron Williams added 18 and 10 assists. The Nets have led by at least nine points in four games during their skid. ''This was a winnable game, but we just couldn't quite close it," coach Avery Johnson said. Lopez, who hopes to return Friday against Detroit, scored 27 points while Williams finished with 19 and nine assists Nov. 3 in a 107-100 home victory over Toronto, which concluded a winless five-game road trip with a 92-74 loss to Portland on Monday. Frustration for the Raptors (4-18), who set a season low for points while shooting a season-worst 35.1 percent, hit a new high when Johnson was ejected with five minutes remaining in the third quarter while trying to wrestle the ball from referee David Jones following a Blazers free throw. After being tossed, he threw his mouthpiece at Jones and had to be escorted off the court by teammates. The league suspended Johnson without pay for this game. ''I told him we can't have that on a night where we're short-handed and we're in a situation where we're scrambling," coach Dwane Casey said. "We just gotta have more discipline than that.'' Toronto already was playing without Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry, who scored 28 points in last month's meeting with Brooklyn, after each left with injuries. Bargnani played less than eight minutes and left after landing awkwardly following a dunk for his only two points of the game. X-rays on his elbow were negative, but his status for Wednesday is unclear. "We'll have to wait and see how it is,'' Casey said. Lowry didn't play in the second half after falling on his right shoulder, and it's uncertain if he'll be able to go against the Nets. ''Somebody grabbed his arm and he hit the floor and he just felt he had a knot in his back,'' Casey said. The absence of either player would further deplete a Raptors team that already has the most losses in the NBA and is shooting 38.9 percent over the last four games. The Raptors have won five of the last six meetings in Canada, though MarShon Brooks was the only current Net who played in Toronto's 98-67 victory in the most recent meeting there April 26. Ed Davis, who had a season-high 14 points against Portland on Monday, scored a career-high 24 in that contest.
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