NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — With Deron Williams and Brook Lopez sidelined for New Jersey Nets, Kris Humphries has become the go-to guy and Gerald Green has turned into a 10-day wonder twice over.
Humphries had 16 points and a career-high 21 rebounds and Green matched his season high by scoring 20 of his 26 points in the second half as the Nets defeated the Toronto Raptors 98-84 on Wednesday night.
“That’s what the NBA is all about,” Humphries said. “With Deron out and Brook out, there is a huge void in every category when those two guys miss. It’s not just me though. Gerald has come in on a 10-day and, look it up, I don’t know if anybody has played that well ever. He is playing great. We are all picking up the slack.”
Humphries has really done it the past two games. He had a career-high 31 points and 18 rebounds — one less than his career high at that point — in a loss to the Bucks on Monday. He broke his best game of the boards on Wednesday.
“He competes every day,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “A guy thinks he has a layup on a break and Hump comes out of nowhere and blocks the shot. He is just a warrior. He is there every night and I know what I am going to get.”
Green also has stepped up. Since signing his first 10-day contract on Feb. 27, he has averaged 11 points in nine games, twice scoring 26 points.
The MVP of the D-League All Star game finished 9 for 13 from the field, including 7 for 10 in the second half when New Jersey outscored Toronto 57-38.
“I was being aggressive,” said Green, whose second 10-day contract will expire on Sunday. “Coach kept calling my number and the players did a great job of cutting off me or giving me the ball. I’m just trying to be aggressive. Everyone is telling me just to score and make a play, and that’s what I have been trying to do.”
The Nets will have to either sign Green for the rest of the season or release him after the weekend, but it’s likely he will not be going anywhere.
“You just never know what is going to happen,” Green said. “I am just so happy to be here. I can’t thank this organization enough. If I could thank them every day I would.”
Anthony Morrow added 15 points for New Jersey, which shot 48 percent from the field in snapping a two-game losing streak.
James Johnson and Jerryd Bayless had 16 points apiece for Toronto, which was limited to 15 points in the third quarter when the Nets took the lead.
With the NBA trading deadline on Thursday, there remained rumors that the Nets were still in the hunt for a trade to bring Dwight Howard from Orlando to New Jersey.
The Nets, ironically, will play in Orlando on Friday night.
Trailing 46-41 at the half, Humphries scored six points and MarShon Brooks had five in a 17-6 run that gave the Nets a 58-52 lead. Toronto trailed 68-61 entering the final 12 minutes and never threatened.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s back to back or three in three nights,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “We’re in the NBA and that is what we are paid to do, perform each and every night. I just didn’t see that. In the first half we competed. We wanted to belong. In the second half we didn’t meet their toughness.”
Green also would not let the Raptors get close He scored eight of the Nets’ first 13 points and he put the game out of reach with a big 3-pointer with 4:15 to go to give New Jersey an 86-75 lead.
The Raptors had a five-point lead at the half but it should have been much more. They missed at least a half a dozen shots in close.
“This was one of those games where we could hit any shots,” said Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who had 12 points on 5 of 15 shooting. “I think everybody took good shots and we tried to be aggressive and get to the basket, but everything didn’t go our way tonight.”
Williams missed his third straight game with a strained right calf, while the Raptors’ Jose Calderon missed his third straight game with a sprained right ankle.
NOTES: This was the second of season-high five-game road trip for the Raptors. … The Nets lead the four-game season series, 2-1. … Nets coach Avery Johnson laughed when asked when he talks to Magic general manager Billy King (about Howard). “I’m kind of the guy when you get on the 10-yard line, or the five-yard line, then call me. Put it like that.” He refused to say whether the Nets were in the red zone. …Toronto center Amir Johnson was called for a flagrant foul in the second for almost tackling Humphries on a layup attempt. He did not play much after that.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)