The end of the first quarter nears. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gets a steal off a DeMar DeRozan turnover. He gets down court with a running dunk. The Brooklyn Nets go ahead of the Toronto Raptors 27-26.

The players are elated. Their 12,800 plus fans are too, and there’s more as Nets rookie Caris LeVert pulls up and hits a jumper from a Hollis-Jefferson pass. He’d gotten the ball quickly down court to LeVert, rebounding a DeRozan miss. Brooklyn closes out the first quarter ahead 29-26 on Tuesday night at home in Barclays Center.

Brooklyn continued its competitiveness in the second quarter, equally matching Toronto’s 32 points to close out the game’s first half 61-58. Brooklyn was up by three over Toronto, who sat guard Kyle Lowry, giving him a night’s rest and replacing him with Cory Joseph. But that’s a Toronto decision. No one outside of Brooklyn and their fans are concerned with their issues, which are far more than the Raptors, who have the second-best record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference and are quietly challenging the Cleveland Cavaliers for the best conference win-loss record.

All cause for celebration and glad handing ceased in the third quarter as Toronto took control in the middle of the period and went ahead and never again relinquished the lead.

To borrow from Raptors’ head coach, Dwane Casey, this one sentence describes the game for both teams: “If it were a 24-minute game, we would have been OK.” The Nets in the first half, Toronto in the second—this swing has been a recurring problem for Brooklyn all season.

“I think their guards really attacked us in the pick-and-roll,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, acknowledging the large number of mid-range shots that his team gave up, but not taking any credit away from the prowess of Toronto’s elite team. “I thought they really attacked us, and DeRozan [36 points] and Joseph [33 points] were excellent tonight.”

“Guys found a way,” said Casey. “That’s what these games are about sometimes.” He noted how games can be mentally hard to prepare and get up for. “You look at a young and talented team like Brooklyn, and you look at their record [8-33/11 straight losses] and you say, ‘OK.’ But no, you can’t play with fire like that.”

LeVert, who’s consistently showing signs of being an impressive, skilled player himself, who along with Hollis-Jefferson scored 14 points off the bench, stated, “Joseph came out in the first half, hit some really tough shots, and then DeRozan in the second half. Seemed like it never really slowed up. They hit tough shots all game.”

Brooklyn plays their 42nd game tomorrow night (Friday), on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans, officially marking the halfway point of their season. They continue on to Charlotte to play the Hornets Saturday, a back-to-back, and return home Monday to battle the San Antonio Spurs. Wednesday they play the Miami Heat, who have joined them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.