NEW YORK (AP) – No Kevin Durant, no Steve Nash and nobody who could guard Scottie Barnes.
The Brooklyn Nets were missing plenty yesterday, and the Raptors rookie wasn’t missing much at all.
Barnes made his first 11 shots and had 28 points and a season-high 16 rebounds, leading Toronto to a 133-97 victory over the Nets in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Blown out by Charlotte and Atlanta in their first two games after the All-Star break, the Raptors were on the good side of a romp.
“We were just really locked in and really focussed,” Barnes said. “Really just wanted to bounce back after those first two games. Just really had to bring it tonight.” The forward was 10-for-10 at halftime, the first rookie to be perfect on 10 or more shots in a half since Derrick Rose on March 18, 2009, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Nets finally stopped the No 4 pick when James Johnson blocked his shot with 7:08 left in the third quarter.
By then, Barnes was on the way to matching his highest-scoring game on a night Toronto led by as many as 39 points. He grabbed nine offensive rebounds, putting some back for baskets in his 12-for-14 performance.
“He’s going to get it no matter what,” guard Malachi Flynn said. “You don’t have to give him the ball, he’s going to find a way to go get it and those are the best players to play with.”
Precious Achiuwa had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors, who played without All-Star guard Fred VanVleet because of a sore right knee. Flynn scored 18 points in his place.
The Raptors moved three games in the loss column ahead of the Nets for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The No 7 seed hosts No 8 to open the play-in round, with the winner of that game earning the No 7 seed. No 8 hosts the winner of the 9-10 game for the No 8 seed.