The new-look Toronto Raptors had just enough to get past one team from New York City on Saturday night. They will try to push their winning streak to five straight when they take on the other team from the Big Apple on Monday, when the Brooklyn Nets pay a visit.
All-Star Kyle Lowry led six players in double figures with 22 points in Toronto's 104-99 win over the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, with newcomer Marc Gasol picking up seven points and six rebounds off the bench. "The mindset is all in," Gasol told reporters after helping the Raptors move within one game of the first-place Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference. "It's a clear goal, it's one goal and that's to play for a championship." One of the league's hottest teams through much of December and January, the Nets have suddenly dropped four of five and they were throttled 125-106 by the lowly Chicago Bulls at home Friday night. The Bulls shot 54.1 percent from the floor while making 14-of-28 3-pointers to hand Brooklyn its third double-digit loss in a span of seven days.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, YES (Brooklyn), Sportsnet One (Toronto) LINE: Raptors -10.5
ABOUT THE NETS (29-28): Guard Caris LeVert returned to action Friday after missing 42 games due to a foot injury, finishing with 11 points and five steals in 15 minutes. "It felt good to get back out there with the team," he told reporters. "Obviously we didn't get the win out there, but it felt good to be back." All-Star D'Angelo Russell had a team-high 23 points in the loss, the 16th time in the last 20 games that he's reached the 20-point mark.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (41-16): Gasol played just 19 minutes in his team debut Saturday, but that was enough to impress his new coach. "I think for a guy that hasn't been with us, you could see the offense moving pretty well," coach Nick Nurse told reporters of Gasol. "He's a guy who is in the right spots to keep things flowing. You throw it to him and there is cutting going on, there is flow to the offense." All-Star Kawhi Leonard returned from a one-game absence due to a knee issue to score a season-low 11 points in 32 minutes.
1. Russell averaged 26.5 points on 56.1 percent shooting and seven assists through the first two matchups this season.
2. Raptors SF Norman Powell is averaging 13 points in 17.7 minutes over his last three contests.
3. Toronto has won seven straight meetings at home.
PREDICTION: Raptors 109, Nets 100 Bet Now
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