Our neighbors to the north gave all sorts of meaning to last night's Nets-Raptors game because it was the teams' first meeting since the first round of last season's playoffs.
For the Raptors and their fans, it was a chance to spit out the bitter taste of a season-ending, one-point loss in Game 7. A chance to flaunt Toronto's new status as the best team (record-wise, anyway) in the conference.
For the Nets, it meant much less. They are trying to find themselves this season, not reminisce about last season.
"It means we've got to go out here and try to get a win,'' coach Lionel Hollins said.
Mission accomplished for the Raptors. Not so much for the Nets.
Point guard Kyle Lowry outplayed counterpart Deron Williams with 20 points and 12 assists as Toronto topped the Nets, 105-89, at Air Canada Centre.
It was Brooklyn's second defeat in two nights after a four-point loss to Miami on Tuesday.
Williams, who had 11 points (5-for-15 shooting) with seven assists and five turnovers, took the loss hard, calling himself "pretty much nonexistent'' in the second half.
"I'm down every time we lose,'' Williams said. "Especially when I'm not making the plays I need to. I didn't make them last night and then tonight the same thing: missing shots in the second half. I've just got to play better.''
Mason Plumlee led the Nets (10-14) with 23 points. Joe Johnson scored 17 and Mirza Teletovic had 14.
Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors (20-6), who have the best record in the Eastern Conference. Six Raptors scored in double figures.
The Nets owned the first quarter, taking a 30-22 lead and taking some air out of the hyped-up building. But the Raptors found their footing in the second quarter and led at the half 53-52.
The topsy-turvy nature of the first two quarters dissipated in the third as the teams played virtually even and Toronto took a 76-73 lead into the fourth. The Raptors, who have won their last 35 games at home when leading after three, pulled away in the final quarter.
Lowry picked up his fourth foul with 5:28 to go in the third quarter on what could have been called a charge on Plumlee. But the Raptors didn't miss a beat. When Lowry scored with his left hand with 5:39 left in the fourth, Toronto had its first double-digit lead at 90-79, and the Raptors cruised from there.
The Nets shot 43.2 percent from the field but were only 10-for-22 from the free-throw line. Plumlee missed 6 of 11 foul shots and Johnson was 0-for-3.
Hollins sat Kevin Garnett for the second game of a back-to-back for the fourth straight time. Sergey Karasev (sore lower side) also was out, so the starting lineup included Teletovic and Alan Anderson.
"We missed a lot of shots, we missed free throws, we couldn't throw the ball to our team,'' Hollins said. "We competed and we gave them a battle for three quarters and then we kind of fell apart.''