Kyrie Irving drops 29, Nets beat short-handed Raptors

The Brooklyn Nets visited the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday and won 112-98. Brooklyn is now 9-10 going into the holiday break and lead the regular-season series with Toronto 2-0.

Kyrie Irving scored 29 points (19 in the third quarter) and had three assists while Nic Claxton had 14 points and 12 rebounds. For Toronto, Gary Trent Jr. had 19 points and OG Anunoby scored 15 points.

The Nets did a much better job in this game than they did against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. Against the Raptors, Brooklyn defended the three-point line much better and with better effort despite being out-rebounded 52-39 and turning the ball over 21 times.

In the end, the Nets pulled away in the third quarter behind Irving’s masterful performance and Toronto going ice-cold from the field. Here are the Nets’ player grades:

Kevin Durant: C+

Durant played the most minutes of any Net and somehow only wound up with 10 shots. While he was efficient from the field, it would’ve been nice to see Durant be more aggressive attacking closeouts or trying to shoot over some of the Raptors. All in all, Durant had a solid all-around game in the win, but Durant should’ve been more involved.

Kyrie Irving: A+

Irving was able to get any shot he wanted against the short-handed Raptors. Irving used ball screens to get defenders on his hip so that he could finish at the rim or step back to take his deadly fadeaway. Irving struggled on defense in the early going, but he was engaged on defense as the second half.

Ben SimmonsB

Simmons did a good job of pushing the pace as Vaughn asked him to do and Simmons pushing the pace allowed for shooters like Harris and O’Neale to spot up for wide open threes. Simmons had some trouble guarding guys like Thaddeus Young, but Simmons was excellent applying pressure on the perimeter guards like Gary Trent Jr. Simmons still has a tendency to commit unnecessary fouls and he’ll need to fix that if he’s able to be on the floor for the Nets down the stretch of big games.

Royce O’NealeB

O’Neale had a great night shooting the three-ball and his shooting allowed for the offense to flow beautifully. O’Neale hasn’t been the defender that he was in Utah, but O’Neale has made up for that by being an exceptional shooter and looking for open teammates such as Nic Claxton for lobs or Harris for three-pointers.

Nic Claxton A

Claxton has a tough job being the Nets only true big that plays rotational minutes. Claxton did a good job in this game since he didn’t have to go against any bigs with considerable weight on him. Claxton was able to match up well with bigs like Thaddeus Young and Chris Boucher. Claxton also did a good job of waiting for his lobs while also making clean catches that allowed him to easily slam the ball through the hoop.

Joe Harris: C-

Harris struggled with his shot again as he has done for most of the games this season. When Harris has games like this, it’s hard for him to make an impact any other way. Harris did turn up his defensive intensity in the second half along with the rest of the Nets to help blow the game open. Even when Harris is missing, he still attracts the attention of defenders because of what he might do.

Patty MillsC

Mills did not play much in this game as Vaughn turned to guards like Sumner and Thomas for more size on the perimeter and more scoring as opposed to shooting. Mills did not make any shots and it seems that he struggled with Toronto’s size as most small guards do.

Edmond SumnerB

Sumner was everywhere in the game as he was a pest on defense. He was applying constant pressure on the perimeter and was helping in distributing the basketball. Sumner’s impact was not fully shown in the box score, but he used his energy to help the Nets pull away from the Raptors.

Markieff Morris A

Morris had one of his best performances in this game as his three-point shot was on. Morris’ role for the Nets is to hit outside shots while trying to help on the boards as one of the bigger players on the team. Morris didn’t have the athleticism to hang with some of the Raptors, but Morris gave great effort to be physical to deny that advantage.

Cam Thomas D

Thomas had an okay game. He did a decent job scoring the ball and providing some pressure on the defense. Thomas does most of his damage in the mid-range, but with Toronto’s length, it was hard for him to get his shot off without being contested.

Story originally appeared on Nets Wire

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