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Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) passes the ball behind Brooklyn Nets centre Jarrett Allen (31) under the net during second half NBA basketball action in Toronto on March 23, 2018.Frank Gunn

The Toronto Raptors, the No. 1 team in the NBA's Eastern Conference, needed a fourth-quarter comeback on Friday night to get past the Brooklyn Nets, the 13th-place team in the East.

Behind 25 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds from Kyle Lowry, 23 points from Jonas Valanciunas and 21 from DeMar DeRozan , the Raptors overcame a 14-point disadvantage and rallied late to a narrow 116-112 victory.

Lowry hit five three-pointers on six attempts, giving him 215 threes on the season, which eclipses the franchise single-season record he set two seasons ago (212).

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe and D'Angelo Russell each had 18 points for the Nets.

The Raptors improved to 54-19 with nine games left, zeroing in on their franchise record of 56 wins, set in 2015-16.

Friday night was the 30th victory at the Air Canada Centre this season for the NBA's leading home team (30-6).

"We were not sharp, whatsoever," said Toronto Coach Dwane Casey. "We did not deserve to win that game but we found a way down the stretch, but that's not playoff basketball, that's not winning basketball whatsoever. So many mental mistakes, we played like we were in a fog. Again, if we're serious about winning, we'll get some focus."

The Nets who came to town Friday were far from the intriguing Brooklyn team with whom the Raptors tangled for seven games in the 2014 playoffs. The Nets, (23-50) arrived having won two of three but had lost 20 of their past 25. They lost their previous 11 meetings with the Raptors – including three this season – their longest active losing streak against any opponent. The Nets hadn't won in Toronto since February of 2015.

The Raptors were coming off a loss in Cleveland two nights earlier, one in which they let a 15-point halftime lead dissolve to the reigning Eastern Conference champs. The Raps had allowed the Cavs to shoot 60 per cent from the field in what Lowry called a "disgraceful display of defence by us" and vowed his team would clean it up.

That was the end of a tough stretch of 10 games in 16 days. Now the Raps are into a much gentler 12-day stretch with just four games. It will provide some time for much-needed practices, which the team was missing during the hectic period jam-packed with travel days and back-to-back sets.

"The old practice word that guys don't want to hear about, but we need that, just with timing, to take care of some of our defensive slippages we've had in certain situations," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "It'll be good next week to get in the gym, get a day of rest and come back in for two days of practice."

It was a humdrum first half at the Air Canada Centre, after loud and thrilling contests in recent weeks against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. Jonas Valanciunas did provide a strong 11-point first quarter in which he also nabbed five rebounds, leading the Raptors to a 32-31 lead after the first.

C.J. Miles missed a second straight game with gastroenteritis, and the Raptors shuffled their typical bench rotation a little. Lucas Nogueira got some rare early game minutes, and provided a brief spark of interest in an otherwise dull half when the seven-foot Brazilian hit his fifth three-pointer of the season and blocked two shots.

Toronto's star back court of Lowry and DeRozan, however, was ineffective in the first half, combining for just 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting. It was the Nets taking a 64-59 lead into halftime.

The second half was interrupted when Lowry made an animated complaint to officials about the rim of one of the baskets being off-balance. A chaotic few minutes involving ladders and workers followed. Raptor Pascal Siakam eventually climbed the ladder himself and straightened the rim.

Lowry had a 10-point third-quarter burst, but Hollis-Jefferson had a duelling 10-point burst for Brooklyn, and the Nets' lead swelled to as much as 14 in the third. DeRozan awoke in the fourth quarter, draining four successive buckets for Toronto to spark a Raptors comeback. He scored 12 in the quarter, while Lowry had nine. It was a Fred VanVleet three-pointer with three minutes remaining that put the Raps ahead, and they never lost it.

This home-stand continues Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers and Tuesday against the Denver Nuggets, two squads just outside of playoff position in the West, and still battling.

After former NBA star Charles Barkley picked the Toronto Raptors to win the NBA Eastern Conference, coach Dwane Casey says his focus is elsewhere. Casey says the playoffs-bound Raptors need to compete and not 'listen to the noise.'

The Canadian Press

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