Nesterovic scores 16 in 106-89 Raptors’ win
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—Rasho Nesterovic(notes) went from being an afterthought in Toronto’s lineup to taking the sting out of the Raptors not having Chris Bosh(notes) for the first time this season.
Nesterovic scored a season-high 16 points in place of Bosh, sidelined with a sprained left ankle, and the Raptors had seven players in double figures in a 106-89 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Friday night.
The most surprising contribution came from Nesterovic. The 11-year veteran had not played in the last three games and had only two points and 10 minutes in the last five.
Against New Jersey, he showed no rust, hitting seven of his first eight shots and finishing 8 of 11 for the game in only his third start of the season.
“There are some nights you just feel it,” said Nesterovic, who has played in 29 games this season. “I felt it tonight. I had a bunch of open shots at the beginning. With CB not playing, we were going to have play like a team and share the ball. That was our only chance to win. Knocking down the first couple, I relaxed a little bit. It’s much easier than if you’re struggling. All I can do is try and do my best.”
Nesterovic matched his previous season high of 12 points by halftime and his basket early in the third quarter helped Toronto open a 20-point lead it never lost.
“It was pretty remarkable,” said point guard Jarrett Jack(notes), who had a team-high 18 points and 10 assists. “In my opinion, basketball is a game of rhythm and he hasn’t been in the lineup for a while. For him to come in and contribute the way that he did is really unbelievable. It’s a testament to him always been ready when called upon.”
The only other time that Nesterovic has scored more than 16 points in the last two seasons was a 21-point effort against Atlanta in November 2008, when he was playing for Indiana.
“I should have tried to run him up wide or make him put the ball on the floor instead of giving him time to get a good look at the rim,” said Brook Lopez(notes), who led the Nets with 22 points but didn’t guard Nesterovic very well.
Jose Calderon(notes) added 16 points as the Raptors dropped the Nets to 5-50. DeMar DeRozan(notes) and Hedo Turkoglu(notes) added 14 points apiece as Toronto shot nearly 60 percent from the field in extending its franchise record for consecutive 100-point games to 19.
“Any time your opponent shoots 60 percent for the game, you’re not going to have much of a chance to win,” Nets interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe said.
This marked the second straight game the Nets have faced an opponent without their best player and again New Jersey came up short.
This latest loss puts New Jersey on pace to tie the NBA mark for fewest wins in a season, set by the Philadelphia 76ers (9-73) in 1972-73.
The Raptors had an easy time without Bosh, who sprained his left ankle Wednesday in Toronto against the Memphis Grizzlies. He didn’t make the trip to New Jersey and the Raptors didn’t need him in building a 56-41 halftime lead.
Down by 20 early in the third quarter, Harris and the Nets played their best basketball of the night and put together a 30-16 spurt, closing to within 77-71 on a driving layup by the point guard with 1:29 left in the quarter.
After taking a timeout, the Raptors scored the final five points of the quarter with Calderon hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer for an 82-71 lead.
Nesterovic had his season high early in the third quarter when he hit a little hook in the lane for a 58-41 lead. When Turkoglu nailed a 3-pointer a minute later, the Raptors had a 61-41 lead.
After the Nets got close, Calderon and Jack put the game away down the stretch.
NOTES: Raptors forward Amir Johnson(notes) got called for an unusual walking violation when he caught his own missed floater in the lane in the second quarter. … Jack got a few laughs at halftime, borrowing a television camera, holding it with his left arm extended and then swishing a 3-pointer with his right hand. The cameraman tried to duplicate the shot and hit the side of the backboard. … Turkoglu started the game with a mask to protect a facial fracture, but took it off after a couple of minutes.