NBA

Raptors try to end skid in Brooklyn

NEW YORK -- Kyle Lowry was feeling under the weather and in no mood to talk on Friday night in Orlando.

For the last two weeks, the Toronto Raptors have been in a malaise and spent time discussing how frustrated they are as they did following a disappointing 102-94 loss to the Magic, when Lowry missed his first eight shots and 15 of 20 overall.

Losers of eight of their last 10 games and missing star DeMar DeRozan for a majority of those games, the Raptors visit the league's worst team on Sunday when they conclude the season series with the Brooklyn Nets.

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When the Raptors exited Brooklyn on Jan. 17 following a 119-109 win over the Nets, they were 28-13 and in first place in the Atlantic Division.

The next night Toronto shot 39.5 percent in a five-point loss at Philadelphia and.

The loss in Philadelphia triggered a five-game losing streak which morphed into the current skid that is Toronto's worst in the last two seasons.

During this slide, Toronto is averaging 99.6 points per game, shooting 42.7 percent and hitting 30.4 percent from 3-point range. Defensively, the Raptors are allowing 103.7 points and teams are shooting 45.7 percent.

Making matters even worse was DeRozan injuring his right ankle in the fourth quarter of a 115-103 home loss to the Phoenix Suns.

DeRozan has missed six of the last seven games and in the one game he played against Orlando last Sunday at home, the guard was 6-of-18 in 36 minutes.

DeRozan is listed as questionable for Sunday and the Raptors are 2-4 when he sits. Norman Powell has started for DeRozan and fared decently by averaging 17.3 points and shooting 51.1 percent.

Powell scored 18 points and served as a voice for the team when Lowry was too upset to talk Friday.

"Everybody's mad," Powell said. "Everybody's frustrated, we're trying to get a win. Everybody's working, leaving it all on the floor. The ball is not bouncing our way right now.

"Everybody hates losing. Nobody's happy. Nobody is content with losing here. We know what we can do. We know how good we are. It's frustrating when you lose a lot of close ones."

The point about the close ones is correct.

During this skid, half of the defeats are by five points or fewer. Friday was the fifth by single digits, although it did not seem as close, as the Raptors scored 40 points after halftime, including 12 in the third quarter.

"We were flat and that's what set the tone in the second half, the start of the third quarter, and it usually does when you don't come out and compete like that, not compete, but execute offensively," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.

During the dubious quarter, the Raptors shot 19 percent and missed nine of 10 3-point shots. Lowry was 0-of-5 and Toronto endured two lengthy scoring droughts totaling 9:31.

Besides DeRozan, the Raptors may also be without Patrick Patterson, who is listed as questionable because of a left knee contusion. Patterson exited in the first quarter on Friday and missed nine of 11 games from Jan. 1 to Jan. 22.

The Nets are on an eight-game losing streak and an 11-game home losing streak. The Nets have been more competitive in this skid than their 11-game slide, as six of their defeats are by single digits.

The culprit is how things unfold in the fourth quarter, especially in the last two games. In the five single digit losses, excluding last week in Cleveland, Brooklyn has been outscored by 42 points in the final 12 minutes.

The latest instance occurred Friday in a 106-97 loss to the Indiana Pacers. The Nets clawed back from a 19-point third quarter deficit to take two one-point leads but in the final six-plus minutes, Brooklyn missed 10 of 13 shots and committed four turnovers.

"It's not for lack of effort or lack of trying," Brooklyn center Brook Lopez said. "We just have to really get over that hump."

Offensively is where things have gone south for the Nets recently, who have been held under 100 in three straight games for the third time this season.

During this skid, Brooklyn is averaging 100.6 points, shooting 43.2 percent, including 33.3 percent from 3-point range while averaging 15.9 turnovers.

Lopez scored 23 points Friday after going 9-of-28 from the floor in his previous two games. Bojan Bogdanovic was rested and the rest of the starting lineup combined for 11 points on 3-of-20 shooting.

Without Bogdanovic, the Nets employed their 22nd starting lineup, as rookie Caris LeVert made his first start and the Nets had three reserves reach double figures to get back into the game.

Bogdanovic is expected to return Sunday and will look to end a 5-of- 22 slump from 3-point range.

"It's definitely just a learning experience being out there," Lopez said. "We've had a lot of changing lineups. People are playing with different people, so it's getting accustomed to one another."

One thing that Nets are not accustomed to doing is beating the Raptors recently.

Lowry rested in the last meeting but Cory Joseph scored a career-high 33 points and Toronto won its seventh straight in the series. Toronto is 9-2 against the Nets since the teams met in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.