The injured networks had barely managed to enter water despite a decimated duty schedule. But now they're in danger of drowning.
The Nets had a big head start when they lost 121-102 to defending champion Raptors before the Barclays Center sold out 17,732 spectators.
The night Caris LeVert returned, Kyrie Irving admitted that he might need shoulder surgery. The Nets (16-18) wasted a 16-point pillow and dropped their fifth game in a row. It's the longest slide since last season's eight-game slide.
"We're not staying afloat right now. We had our heads afloat," said trainer Kenny Atkinson. I don't see it that way. I feel like we haven't played as well since Christmas and I think we can play better.
"There are no excuses about this track and how we played. I think with the group we have we have more than enough to play better than we play. I don't even want to use that as an excuse. Obviously, getting people back is helpful. I think it's the right time. I think Caris & # 39; energy, we need that energy boost now. I don't see ourselves as a super-energetic team right now. "
LeVert played their first game since a loss on November 10 in Phoenix. And after missing 24 in a row, he looked like he had never been away.
It's clear that LeVert only logged 15 minutes, but made the most of it. He had 13 points in 5 out of 7 shooting. And he immediately took the fighting nets with them – they just couldn't make the deal.
The Nets have only played 1:17 against Toronto in the past 18 years. The only win was the overtime thriller that got around last season.
With Irving and Kevin Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie had a team high of 23 points. Against Toronto (24:12) it was not enough, which could do well after a win from behind without Pascal Siakam (tense groin) and Marc Gasol (tense left Achilles tendon).
The Nets led 3:38 in the half with 52-36 when Joe Harris (18 points) found Taurean Prince for a 3-pointer.
But they didn't collect a single point before the break and watched Toronto score the last 12 points to come within four at half-time.
And as soon as it became a game, the defending champions went out and seized it.
In a free throw from Spencer Dinwiddie, the Nets clung to a 68:64 lead with 4:45 in the third quarter. But a quick 6-0 from Toronto got her going.
While the nets were still between 85 and 83 after a technical free throw by Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, the raptors ran out after a 15: 5 run to gain complete control.
Fred VanVleet had 29 points and 11 assists, both game highs. Point Guard Kyle Lowry added 26.
"[Recent play] is a bit disappointing, ”said Atkinson. "[In Dallas] We were in a one-point game in the fourth quarter and [Luka] Doncic takes some great shots. But of course we have to play better overall to overcome the hump, and for longer periods of time.
"I think we get to the point where we don't do it long enough and we get hurt that we're not consistent enough during the game."