TORONTO - DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points as the Toronto Raptors took the lead from the start and never looked back to defeat the Brooklyn Nets 93-87 Sunday before a crowd of 17,617 at Air Canada Centre.
The victory averted a sweep of the season series by the Nets, who won the first three meetings between the teams.
The Raptors led by as many as 21 points early in the game, but the Nets climbed back to within two in the fourth quarter.
DeRozan hit two free throws with 31.5 seconds left to put Toronto into a seven- point lead, but Joe Johnson came back with a 3-pointer for the Nets.
Toronto's Kyle Lowry missed two free throws with 23.4 seconds to go. However, the Nets couldn't take advantage, and when DeRozan hit two free throws with 15.3 seconds to play it completed the scoring.
Rudy Gay added 26 points with 10 rebounds for the Raptors, and Amir Johnson scored 10 points with nine rebounds. Lowry had seven points, six assists and nine rebounds.
Deron Williams led the Nets with 30 points and seven assists, Brook Lopez added 16 points, Andray Blatche 15 and Joe Johnson 12. Reggie Evans had no points and 16 rebounds for the Nets.
The Nets (47-33) entered the fourth quarter down by 11 points after cutting into the 20-point lead the Raptors (32-48) had during the third quarter. The Nets quickly whittled the deficit to six, with Blatche scoring the first five points of the fourth. C.J. Watson hit a jumper with 6:50 to play to cut the lead to four.
The Raptors led by seven after DeRozan scored on a layup and made the free throw. The Nets came back again, and when Blatche made one of two free throws after Amir Johnson committed his fifth foul with 4:42 to play, the lead was down to two. Gay's driving layup and a free throw had the lead back up to five. Lowry hit one of two foul shots followed by Gay's jumper, giving Raptors a 83-75 lead with 3:36 left.
Williams pulled the Nets pulled to within five, but DeRozan's 3-pointer with 2:18 to play restored the eight-point lead.
The lead was down to four on a 3-pointer by Williams, but DeRozan hit a pair of free throws to put the lead at six.
The Nets took possession on a turnover with 49.1 seconds left and Blatche cut the lead to four on a layup with 40.7 seconds remaining. Gay hit one of two free throws with 37.7 left and the Raptors led by five.
The Raptors took a 19-point lead into the second half. Despite a surge by Lopez, who scored eight of the Nets' first 12 points of the second half, the Raptors maintained the 19-point lead after Amir Johnson scored on a reverse layup with 6:25 to play in the third quarter.
DeRozan's 3-pointer from the corner on the fast break after a Nets' turnover had the Raptors ahead 66-46 with 4:14 left in the third. Consecutive 3-pointers by Williams cut the lead to 11. After John Lucas gave Toronto a 13-point lead, Williams hit two of three free throws to end the third quarter with the Raptors' lead at 70-59.
The Raptors went on an 11-0 run in the second quarter to open up a 46-26 lead. At the half the lead was 51-32 with DeRozan leading the scoring with 15 points and Gay adding 14. In the opening minutes of the game, the Raptors raced out to a 12-2 lead and were still leading 24-20 after the first quarter led by DeRozan's 11 points.
NOTES: Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (neck) missed his second game in a row. "Hopefully he can play in the next two games," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said before Sunday's game. ... Guard Terrence Ross (sprained ankle) was available for Sunday's game. Casey said Ross was still a little tender and he wasn't sure how much he would play. ... Raptors forward Landry Fields (strep throat) also was available. ... Nets forward Gerald Wallace (lower left leg contusion) did not play. ... With the possibility of a third seed in the playoffs still alive, Nets head coach P.J. Carlesimo has a problem with how much he should play point guard Williams, center Lopez and shooting guard Joe Johnson when the possibility exists to give them some rest before the postseason. He said he's talked to the players about it and all three started on Sunday. "The sense was that we're playing well so let's keep it going," Carlesimo said before Sunday's game. But he added it didn't necessarily mean that he wouldn't monitor their minutes. ... The Nets are home Monday to the Washington Wizards. The Raptors visit the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.