Raptors clash with Atlantic-rival Nets

(SportsNetwork.com) - The two top teams in the Atlantic Division do battle Friday night when the Toronto Raptors visit the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.

One small caveat to the top teams in the Atlantic battling - the Raptors are 12 1/2 games ahead of the Nets for divisional supremacy. The second-largest margin between a leader and second place in the NBA is the nine-game cushion the Portland Trail Blazers own over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Further distance has been placed between Toronto and Brooklyn recently. The Raptors come into Friday's tilt with a four-game winning streak, while the Nets have dropped three straight.

On Wednesday, the Raptors knocked off the Sacramento Kings, 119-102, at Air Canada Centre.

Lou Williams netted 27 points off the bench to lead a balanced Raptors' attack. Seven Toronto players scored double figures.

"That's what it's all about. Not individuals. Team," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.

Greivis Vasquez posted 18 points and six assists, Jonas Valanciunas provided 15 points and nine rebounds and Kyle Lowry added 13 points and seven assists for Toronto.

Terrence Ross (13), DeMar DeRozan (12) and Patrick Patterson (11) rounded out the 10-plus scorers for the Raptors, who visit the Washington Wizards Saturday.

The Nets played their last four on the road, although, they were scheduled for a home game on Monday. The NBA canceled that contest with the Trail Blazers due to the impending blizzard.

Despite the 1-3 mark in their recent trek, the Nets may wish they were back on the road. Brooklyn hasn't won at the Barclays Center in 2015, a span of six games.

On Wednesday, the Nets became another victim of the Atlanta Hawks, falling 113-102, at Philips Arena.

Former Hawk Joe Johnson scored a team-high 26 points and Jarrett Jack finished with 14 points and a career-high 13 assists in the loss. Brook Lopez chipped in 18 off the bench.

Alan Anders scored 15 on 5-for-10 shooting and Mason Plumlee had 14.

"We made shots," said Nets coach Lionel Hollins. "When you make shots, you give yourself a chance."

The Nets only shot 44.8 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from long range. They lost the rebounding battle, 35-25.

The Raptors won the first matchup this season, a 16-point drubbing in Canada on Dec. 17. That came after the Nets toppled the Raptors in the first round of last season's playoffs.

The two teams meet again Wednesday north of the border, then on April 3.