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Nets-Raptors Preview

For the first time in two months, the Toronto Raptors are coming off a loss at home.

The last time they were in that situation, they responded with a victory over the Brooklyn Nets that started the longest home winning streak in franchise history.

At the midpoint of a seven-game homestand, the Raptors again look to bounce back with a victory over the Nets when they meet Tuesday night.

It appeared Toronto (41-20) would have little trouble extending its home winning streak to 13 on Sunday, leading a Houston team playing the second of a back-to-back by 18 midway through the second quarter. The Raptors, though, had no answer for James Harden after halftime, as he scored 30 of his 40 points in the final 24 minutes to lead the Rockets to a 113-107 win.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey wasn't surprised by the inability to protect a big lead after watching his team blow almost all of a 14-point fourth-quarter advantage in Friday's 117-115 victory over Portland.

"That's been our weakness all year," Casey said. "I've said that millions of times. We've luckily won some of those games, but I've always said it's going to come back and bite us. We have to keep the same intensity when we get leads, the same quality of possessions offensively."

Defense was the biggest problem Sunday, however, as the Rockets shot 58.3 percent and made nine of 16 3-pointers in the second half. Houston had 62 second-half points - the third time in four games an opponent reached that number.

Toronto is routinely getting burned from beyond the arc, allowing each of its last five opponents to make at least 10 3-pointers while shooting 44.6 percent.

"It's the kind of thing that has been occurring too much for us," point guard Kyle Lowry said. "We have to get better defensively. We are giving up 100 points like it's nothing."

The Nets (18-45) had almost given up 100 points through three quarters Saturday at Minnesota, allowing the Timberwolves to shoot a franchise-record 68.4 percent in a 132-118 loss.

In fairness, interim coach Tony Brown opted to rest top interior defensive player Brook Lopez and 6-foot-8 power forward Thaddeus Young with Brooklyn playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Thomas Robinson had 18 points and 17 rebounds but Brooklyn's starters were outscored 95-56.

''I think our other guys who got a chance to play, they have to show more energy, play with a little bit more effort and play together on both ends of the floor,'' Brown said.

Lopez had 29 points in Brooklyn's last game against Toronto on Jan. 18, but was outdone by the Raptors' high-scoring backcourt as Lowry had 31 and DeMar DeRozan added 30. Toronto won 112-100 for the first of 12 straight home victories.

DeRozan recorded back-to-back 30-point games before scoring 19 with five turnovers - his most since Dec. 22 - versus Houston.

Lowry had 17 points against the Rockets after averaging 34.3 and 65.5 percent shooting in his previous three.

Jonas Valanciunas had one of his best games of the season in a 91-74 win at Brooklyn on Jan. 6, scoring 22, but he was held to six on 3-of-11 shooting in the rematch 12 days later.

The Nets, losers of three of four regular-season games in Toronto, are 3-4 on a season-high nine-game trip to match the number of wins from their previous 18 road contests.

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