TORONTO – Kawhi Leonard had a game-high 30 points and hit the game-winning shot with 4.2 seconds left as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Brooklyn Nets 127-125 on Monday.
Marc Gasol had 16 points off the bench in his home debut for the Raptors (42-16), scoring 11 of those in the fourth quarter.
Gasol was acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies at last week’s trade deadline as the team bolstered its roster for a post-season push.
Serge Ibaka added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Raps and Pascal Siakam had 17 points.
D’Angelo Russell had a team-high 28 points for the Nets (29-29), who made 20 three-point baskets.
Joe Harris scored 24 points while Allen Crabbe chipped in with 22 for Brooklyn.
Leonard answered a challenge from head coach Nick Nurse, who said the NBA all-star appeared unmotivated over the last four games.
“I just think he’s got to get a little bit more engaged, right?” Nurse said Monday morning. “I always say go out there and ‘destroy some people’ or whatever it is. You know? You’ve got to get motivated.”
The Raptors struggled to find their pace in the opening quarter. Leonard committed three of the team’s five turnovers in the first as they trailed Brooklyn 29-21. Harris scored 15 of 24 points in the opening quarter for the Nets.
Toronto chipped away at Brooklyn’s lead in the second. Trailing 42-34, the Raptors went on a 10-2 run with their best players subbed back into the court.
Gasol, acquired for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round draft pick, made a basket in that run. Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Siakam also recorded baskets to help Toronto keep it close.
Harris would hit back-to-back three-pointers to give Brooklyn a 60-56 lead at halftime.
The Raptors bench helped Toronto even the score at 92-92 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Raptors were able to pull away from the Nets thanks to Gasol’s production. He went 5-for-5 to go with a pair of assists and some key defensive stops.
Note: The Raptors, already with a short bench due to the Gasol trade, were without the services of Fred VanVleet. The guard is out for three weeks with a thumb ligament injury. Nurse said he was surprised about VanVleet’s injury and hopes he won’t miss too many games. VanVleet was injured on Saturday in the Raptors’ 104-99 win over the New York Knicks.
Source:: Daily times