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Nets-Raptors Preview

Jan 18, 2016 - 5:00 AM The Toronto Raptors have yet to match their soaring start to this season, though a long homestand brings an opportunity to possibly exceed it.

The Atlantic Division leaders first have the chance to tie a season high with a fifth consecutive win when they begin a seven-game residency Monday night against the stumbling Brooklyn Nets.

Toronto (25-15) returns to Air Canada Centre for the first time since Jan. 3 following a five-game trip it concluded Thursday in London, where the Raptors recorded a hard-earned 106-103 overtime victory over Orlando. It's the team's third four-game win streak since opening the season a franchise-best 5-0.

The Raptors showed plenty of resolve in the finale of the 11-day trek, battling back after losing an 11-point fourth-quarter lead and overcoming poor shooting performances from DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan finished with a season-low 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting and Lowry was 5 of 20.

"It happens," said Lowry, who still managed 24 points and is averaging 22.0 over his last six. "At the end of the day, our teammates picked us up and we got the win. That's all that matters. We have a full team and we can have off-shooting nights."

The Raptors have made just 28.6 percent of 3-point attempts during the streak but are excelling at the foul line and defensively. They've shot 84.3 percent from the charity stripe and allowed an average 90.0 points while forcing 16.8 turnovers over the four games.

Toronto's surge began with a 91-74 win in Brooklyn on Jan. 6 in which it held the Nets to 39.7 percent to offset a 4-of-22 effort from 3.

Brooklyn (11-30) has fired coach Lionel Hollins since that meeting, and fell to 1-3 under interim replacement Tony Brown and 3-24 when scoring less than 100 points in Saturday's 114-86 blowout loss at Atlanta.

''I know there are nights like this in the NBA. But what I told them is I want to see a little more fight," said Brown, whose team was outscored 59-38 in the second half. "When you get into adversity, things are not going your way, it's easy to not do as much. We've got some guys not playing their best basketball, but they have to fight their way out of these situations. I can sit there and talk to them all day, run plays for them, but you've got to reach deep down and see how bad you want it. I thought (Saturday) we let go of the rope a little bit."

The Hawks finished with a 64-30 advantage in the paint, capitalizing on a continued weakness during Brown's brief tenure. The Nets are allowing 55.5 points in the lane over his four games, during which opponents have averaged 110.0 points and shot 51.0 percent. Brooklyn previously allowed an average of 43.8 points in the paint.

Toronto took advantage as well in the last meeting, with center Jonas Valanciunas scoring a season-high 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

Brook Lopez had 24 points and 13 rebounds in the Jan. 6 matchup but was held to 10 points and a season-low three rebounds by the Hawks.

The Nets are 4-15 on the road but did record a 109-93 win in their last visit to Toronto on Feb. 4, 2015.