Gary Trent Jr. scored 19 points to lead the Raptors (9-9), who were missing both Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes, plus half a dozen others. O.G. Anunoby finished with 15 points, while Thaddeus Young and Chris Boucher scored 12 apiece, and Jeff Dowtin Jr. and Juancho Hernangomez finished with 10 each.
Nic Claxton added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Brooklyn (9-10).
The injuries and illnesses continue to mount for Toronto. News that VanVleet was out with non-COVID illness caught reporters by surprise prior to Wednesday's tipoff. Barnes (knee sprain) and Dalano Banton (ankle sprain) sat out the game.
The beleaguered Raptors made a game of it for the first half, and trailed by just a point at the break, but ran out of gas against a Nets team at full strength.
The Nets led 91-76 to start the fourth quarter, and when Irving's 26-footer dropped with 4:42 to play, Brooklyn went up by 20 and hundreds of fans zipped on their coats and headed for the exit.
Irving was booed during team introductions. The embattled guard had served an eight-game suspension for posting a link to a documentary with antisemitic material.
The Nets raced out to an early 12-point lead on a cutting dunk by Durant, and stretched it to 15 points on Edmond Sumner's running reverse layup with 47 seconds left in the first quarter. The Nets led 38-26 to start the second.
Toronto opened the second quarter with a 13-0 run, taking a one-point lead when Thaddeus Young scored on a putback of Trent's missed jump shot. The Nets went ahead by seven before the Raptors closed the half with a 6-0 run, punctuated by Anunoby's huge dunk over Kevin Durant. Brooklyn took a 52-51 lead into the halftime break.
The Nets stretched their advantage to 17 points on Claxton's dunk midway through the third quarter.
RAPTORS RED CARPET
The Toronto Argonauts were feted with a standing ovation when they took centre court with the Grey Cup. The Argos upset the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24-23 in a thrilling 109th Grey Cup on Sunday. Canada's women's basketball team was also at the game.
Drake turned a few heads sitting courtside in a furry cream-coloured coat that featured two teddy bears sewn into the front. Longtime broadcaster Jack Armstrong wore the coat for part of the game, undoubtedly eliciting some chuckles from viewers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2022.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press