TORONTO (AP) — With their long-range shots falling one after another, Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets had some fun for a change.
Williams had 24 points and nine assists, Anthony Morrow also scored 24 and the Nets snapped a six-game losing streak by beating the Toronto Raptors 97-85 on Friday night.
“It’s fun to win,” Williams said. “It’s fun to be up and not down 20.”
DeShawn Stevenson added 15 points for the Nets, who made a season-high 15 3-pointers to win for the first time since their opener, Dec. 26 at Washington.
“We needed a win in the worst way,” Williams said. “I think everybody realized that tonight and we buckled down defensively.”
Nets coach Avery Johnson was happy to see his players enjoying the victory in the locker room.
“We wanted to smile,” Johnson said. “For five or so games we’ve been having a frown on our face and we wanted to smile after a game.”
New Jersey guard Jordan Farmar came off the bench to score 10 points and ex-Raptor Kris Humphries matched a season high with 16 rebounds.
“We really were in desperate need of a win tonight,” Humphries said.
Fifteen of New Jersey’s 31 field goals were from beyond the arc. The Nets made four 3s in the first quarter, five in the second, two in the third and pulled away with four more in the fourth, leading by as many as 21 points.
Stevenson said Williams was the key factor in creating opportunities for New Jersey’s outside threats.
“When you have two shooters like me and (Morrow), they’ve got to pick which one. I got open 3s, (Morrow) got open 3s. That’s the way you’ve got to play.
“That’s why I came here,” Stevenson added. “(Williams) is an All-Star point guard, he does great things out there. If you put him in a situation where the court is spread, we can get wide-open jumpers all day.”
Jose Calderon scored a season-high 19 points and Andrea Bargnani had 17, but the Raptors couldn’t extend their winning streak to three games.
“It goes back to us not stepping on the court and playing desperate,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Not playing tight, but playing like a desperate, hungry team and I don’t think we did that tonight.”
Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who made a career-high five 3-pointers in Wednesday’s victory over Cleveland, was held to three points in this one, hitting just one of six field goal attempts and spending most of the fourth quarter on the bench.
Johnson credited Stevenson’s tough defense as the key to keeping DeRozan in check.
“The player of the game for us was DeShawn Stevenson,” Johnson said. “The defense that he played on DeRozan was incredible.”
Rasual Butler and Ed Davis each had 11 points for Toronto.
Already without center Brook Lopez (broken right foot), rookie guard MarShon Brooks (sprained left ankle) and forward Damion James (sore right foot), the Nets lost starting center Mehmet Okur to back spasms 3 minutes into the opening quarter.
But they were boosted by Williams, who returned after missing Wednesday’s loss at Boston with sore ribs, and Humphries, back after skipping the previous two games because of a sore left shoulder. Both were in the starting lineup.
Morrow scored 14 points in the first half to give New Jersey a 48-40 lead at the break, Toronto’s largest halftime deficit of the season.
The Nets led 75-64 after three, taking a lead into the final quarter for the first time this season.
NOTES: Nine of New Jersey’s first 14 field goals were 3-pointers. … All four Nets players named Williams (Deron, Jordan, Shelden and Shawne) were on the floor together during one stretch in the third quarter. … New Jersey has had a lower shooting percentage than its opponent in all eight games so far. … Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless (sprained left ankle) missed his fourth straight game. … This was the first of seven games in nine days for the Raptors, who visit Philadelphia on Saturday before playing three consecutive nights next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. … Toronto hasn’t won three straight since a four-game run from Nov. 17-24, 2010. … Toronto Blue Jays players J.P. Arencibia, Casey Janssen, Brett Lawrie and Ricky Romero attended the game.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)