DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry did what they had to do to get the Raptors over the hump against a desperate Jazz squad, who are still fighting for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. DeRozan and Lowry's 31 and 32 points respectively made up for their team's spotty shooting and defensive inconsistency.
"We turned the ball over a lot," Lowry said at the half. "We are not getting back in transition. We got to get a win."
As a whole, the Raptors shot 50 percent from the field and 27 percent from beyond the arc, evidence of an off night from a few of the team's best distance gunners. In particular, power forward Patrick Patterson struggled to establish any sort of rhythm. He was 1-for-9 from the field and missed all five of his three-point chances.
But, Patterson did rebound, and that can't be overlooked. The Raptors separated themselves from the Jazz due in part to a team-wide commitment to chasing the glass. As a whole, the Jazz were out-rebounded by a margin of 45-33. No individual player was responsible for the team's success. Patterson had seven boards, Bismack Biyombo had seven, Jonas Valanciunas had eight, and Luis Scola added six. When all of the bigs play their part, the team typically experiences success.
The Jazz put up a real fight in this one, keeping it close until the end. It even looked as though they were going to pull away in the second quarter, mounting a strong run led by star small forward Gordon Hayward. He went cold in the second half, but still managed to put up 26 points.
Ultimately, the Jazz just aren't ready to compete with a team like the Raptors under normal circumstances. When the two teams faced earlier in November, the Jazz did come out victorious, but the Raps were coming off a late loss to the Golden State Warriors the day before, so fresh legs were hard to come by. For now, the Jazz are too young and inexperienced, but the mix of Hayward, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors may prove to be lethal in the future.
Though the Raptors officially acquired Jason Thompson yesterday after he was released by the Warriors, the big man did not find his way off the bench. Instead, Lucas Nogueira logged rare minutes off the pine, replacing Biyombo in the second quarter. His four and half minutes fired up the crowd and the team to push the score back in the Raptors' favour by the end of the first half.
With the win, the Raptors improved to 40-19 on the year, setting a franchise record for the most wins after 59 games. The Raptors also maintained a 4.5 game cushion over the Boston Celtics, who earned a huge 116-93 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.