Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/15/13
NEW YORK -- P.J. Carlesimo took a glance at the final stat sheet after his Nets won for the seventh straight time and ninth time out of 10 under his watch, and he marveled at the fact that Brooklyn indeed defeated the Toronto Raptors. "We beat a very good team," Carlesimo said after the Nets' 113-106 victory Tuesday night at the Barclays Center in a game they easily could have lost. "I told the team that we allowed Toronto to shoot 49 percent from the floor, 54 (percent) from (3-point range) and 89 percent from the line. We were outrebounded (41-34), and we still managed to win the game." Maybe that's just part of the incredible karma that Brooklyn (23-15) has going under Carlesimo, who took over for Avery Johnson last month. The Nets' fortunes turned around totally after the coaching change. "We're having a great time out there," said Joe Johnson, one of three Nets to score more than 20 points, totaling 21. "We're all feeding off each other. We're not taking anything for granted and we have a long way to go, but we're enjoying this run." "It's been great," said center Brook Lopez, who led the Nets with 22 points and nine rebounds. "Personally, I've never been able to experience anything like this in my career before. I love the feeling." With their 23rd win, the Nets have more victories this season than they had for their entire final season in New Jersey a year ago, when they finished 22-44 in the lockout-shortened campaign. Besides Lopez and Johnson, the Nets also received 21 points and seven assists from Deron Williams. "They shot the ball well," Williams said of the Raptors. "Their record doesn't indicate how good of a team they are. They shot the ball, and our defense wasn't where we'd like it to be. But once again, we found a way to win, and that's the most important thing." The winning has to be directly attributed to the coaching change as well. Carlesimo has enabled the Nets to play more freely, and it's showed. Brooklyn remains undefeated in 2013, having won all seven games in the new year. "We did two things," Carlesimo said. "We only had six turnovers, and that was a point of emphasis because we turned the ball over 35 times in the first two games we played against them. And we got to the line and made our foul shots." As a team, the Nets made 25 of 28 from the line, with Lopez going 10-for-10 and Williams hitting all eight of his foul shots, giving him a streak of 38 straight. The Nets also received solid performances off the bench from Andray Blatche, who scored 14 points, and little-used Mirza Teletovic, who had 10, all in a five-minute span late in the second quarter. Toronto (14-24) lost for the second straight time. The Raptors were led by Kyle Lowry, who scored 19 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including four straight 3-pointers. He returned to action after it was reported he was out for the game with a sprained ankle in the first quarter. Lowry had his 21 points in just 15 minutes of action. "I sprained my ankle bad, and it's really sore right now," Lowry said. "I thought I was done, but I didn't want to leave my teammates. Coach (Dwane Casey) trusted me and put me back in. In the fourth quarter, I just got some open looks. I had not been aggressive, so this was my time to take over. At that point, I had to do something. I just wanted to help the team." Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon scored 15 points each, and Ed Davis and DeMar DeRozan had 12 each for the Raptors. The Raptors looked like the more energetic team in the early going, taking the ball to the basket with ease while hitting several outside shots. Davis had eight points and Calderon seven in the first period to lead the Raptors, as they led 19-14 with 3:34 left in the quarter. The Nets managed to draw even at 27-27 at the end of the period, with Williams scoring eight points and Joe Johnson adding seven in the quarter. The Nets got a huge lift from Teletovic, who sat out the prior two games. He entered the game with five minutes left before the break and scored 10 points, nailing three 3-pointers in that short span. Teletovic's burst gave the Nets a 54-50 lead at halftime. "I have to be ready when I get my chance to play," Teletovic said. "I practice every day for a chance to be ready when I get in the game. It was enjoyable to get that chance." Casey said, "That young man off the bench came in and opened the game up for them. We lost him in transition a couple of times, and he's too good of a shooter to let that happen, having a miscommunication three times. I really think that changed the game." Williams and Joe Johnson each hit a long 3-pointer, giving the Nets a 72-65 lead with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter. The Nets then blew the game wide open with a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter, keyed by the play of three reserves, Blatche, Teletovic and MarShon Brooks. Teletovic made a block, Brooks pushed the ball up the floor and Williams fed Blatche with a behind-the-back, highlight-variety feed to give Brooklyn a 93-78 lead with 8:03 left. "The bench was good again," Carlesimo said of his second unit, which combined to score 40 points. "We put Mirza in and he played well, so we extended his minutes. We would have liked to defend better, but the reality of it is that they played well. We found a way to win with two really good spurts. We won because of that." The Raptors closed to within 112-107 but could not get any closer, falling for the third straight time to the Nets this season. NOTES: Raptors forward Alan Anderson took an inadvertent slap from Lopez in the second quarter that knocked out a front tooth. Anderson was on the bench after receiving emergency dental work at the break. ... Nets power forward Gerald Wallace missed his second consecutive game due to bruised ribs. Wallace went down hard in the first quarter of Friday night's win over Phoenix after a nasty collision with Suns forward P.J. Tucker, and he has not recovered sufficiently to return to action. ... Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani has been out of action since Dec. 12 because of a torn right elbow ligament and a strained right wrist. The former No. 1 overall draft pick missed his 16th game in a row. ... Bargnani's backup, Jonas Valanciunas, is also out with a broken finger. ... ..Linas Kleiza was listed as day-to-day, but he was not with the Raptors due to a sore right knee. ... After losing to the Nets last month, the Raptors won 10 of their next 14 games prior to Tuesday. ... Amir Johnson was announced as the starting center for the Raptors, but he was removed in favor of Aaron Gray right before the opening tip. Gray finished with six points and two rebounds in 17 minutes.
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