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Nets snap Raptors’ 15-game win streak, enter All-Star Break with momentum: 101-91

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Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Brooklyn Nets played their final game before the All-Star break, a 24-win team entering Wednesday with virtually no identity. Kevin Durant has been out the entire season, while Kyrie Irving has missed 33 games. Caris LeVert missed 26 games due to thumb surgery.

Taking all of that into consideration, it’s hard for a team to fully understand who they are when most of their pieces — crucial pieces nonetheless — have missed a majority of the season’s games.

The Nets couldn’t have asked for a better way to enter the All-Star break, winning their second straight game and sixth in the last eight, all while snapping Toronto’s 15-game win streak, 101-91, Wednesday night at Barclays Center. The Nets (25-28) and the Raptors (40-15) might be a first-round match in the playoffs with Toronto owning the two seed and the Nets owning the seven seed.

If that’s the case, the Nets need to play they did on Wednesday.

They came out of the gates with extra prowess on the defensive end. They held Toronto to 19 points in the opening quarter and kept it steady throughout the night, giving up just 91 points while containing the Raptors to 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from three. The Raptors had averaged 121 points during their winning streak.

The Nets went up double digits in the second quarter and never fell off after that. They didn’t shoot particularly well — 40.9 percent from the field and 25.7 percent from three, but they made enough stops and got the balanced attack they needed.

In the fourth, DeAndre Jordan and Garrett Temple put home consecutive and-one’s to give Brooklyn an 80-65 lead. Toronto chipped away a bit, trimming the deficit down to 10, but Spencer Dinwiddie scored five straight points to go back up 15 with a little over five minutes remaining.

Of course, Nets killer Fred VanVleet (16 points) brought it within nine, but Caris LeVert put things to rest with two consecutive baskets. At that point, it was a 13 point Nets’ lead with 3:40 left.

The dagger: Joe Harris 3-pointer with 1:55 left, 13-point Nets lead. Harris finished the night with 19 points and 5 rebounds, continuing his stellar play of late where he’s scored 15+ points in five out of the last six games.

Caris LeVert was the catalyst for Brooklyn all night, finishing with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four steals. He’s averaging 24 points in the last five games. Meanwhile, Dinwiddie was LeVert’s wingman and finished with 17 points, six rebounds and nine assists. In fact, Dinwiddie has handed out 30 assists over the last three games (at Toronto, at Indiana, vs. Toronto) while turning the ball over only three times.

Finally, Jarrett Allen. He nabbed his 13th double double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Down came the “Brooookklynnn” chants.

Post-game, Kyle Lowe offered his assessment of the streak-ending loss.

“We were walking zombies,” Lowry said. “We didn’t play well tonight, simple as that. We missed shots, we weren’t aggressive. And give them credit. They played their butts off, and they beat us. It’s only one game.”

The first half of the season has been a roller coaster, with ups, downs and everything in between. For right now, they’re going to ride this momentum into the break, get rest and potentially a healthy Kyrie Irving for when they return.

KYRIE UPDATE ... SORTA

It’s been 10 days since the Nets said Kyrie Irving would be re-evaluated in “one week.”

On Wednesday, reporters asked Kenny Atkinson if Irving is expected back when Nets come back from the NBA All-Star break in 12 days vs.the 76ers: “There’s a lot of days and I don’t want to go out and say something that I’d regret later… When we get back, those first couple practices will determine where he is.”

MILESTONES

—Nets snap a 12-game losing streak to NBA Champions

—Nets end the longest win streak in Canadian Sports History

—Nets extend their season-best home win streak to five

—Nets have now won each of their last five home games by 10+ points, matching a franchise record for consecutive double digit home victories.

—Toronto’s franchise-record 15-game win streak is the longest win streak snapped by the Nets in their franchise history

1 POINT FOR KD...?

My theory: Another means of trolling Kevin Durant. Perhaps baiting him to respond so the TNT crew can go at him for using Twitter. Is it a big deal? No. But it’s everything KD talks about when discussing media.

If it’s not a troll, then as Bill Simmons tweeted...

For a different perspective, head on over to the funeral that is RaptorsHQ.com our Raptors sister site on SB Nation.

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Next up: The All-Star Break. Then, the first five games out of the break are against the Sixers, Hornets, Magic, Wizards and Hawks.