In a game the Sacramento Kings only led for 15 seconds, the Toronto Raptors raced out to a 29-19 first quarter lead and never looked back, their depth and their defense wearing down their former teammates and rivals. Head Coach Dwane Casey used every available player on his roster at some point during this game and only two of his players were on the court for over 30 minutes in the 99-87 victory at the Air Canada Centre.
“Yes it did,” said Casey about his depth wearing down the Kings. “I thought Chuck Hayes came in and gave us a boost. Like I always say, he has that old man’s strength in the post and does an excellent job. I thought Patrick Patterson gave us a lift and then Terrence (Ross) came in and did what he usually does – knock down shots. John Salmons (had a) calming effect handling the ball, making shots out of our pick-and-roll.”
The Raptors had 5 players score in double-digits and Amir Johnson got stuck on 9 points and 9 rebounds after picking up 4 personal fouls. Ross led Toronto with 18 points on 6 made three-pointers.
The Kings let Toronto blow this game open with 8 turnovers in the third quarter as the Raptors outscored them 29-19 for the second time in the game. Garbage time arrived early and the fourth quarter began to resemble a practice session for Valanciunas to test out the post moves he had been working on before the game with Jamaal Magloire.
“I thought we were awful tonight,” said Head Coach Michael Malone. “The first and third quarter, I thought our starting group was not ready to play. They outscored us 58-38 in those two quarters and thank goodness for the guys on the bench who came back in, in that second quarter and got us back in the game a little bit. Defending in the second quarter was the only quarter that we defended in, held them to 30 percent. Then we come out in the third quarter and that same starting group turned the ball over 8 times for 9 points, allowed them to shoot over 50 percent from the field and puts the game out of reach. Guys on the bench came in, in the fourth quarter and just played hard, competed and cut it to 10 points late, but that obviously is not indicative of the kind of game that it was. The game was not that close.”
The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins with 24 points, but the big man didn’t have much positive to say about the evening’s performance.
“We had plenty of chances tonight to fight back into the game and actually make it a game,” Cousins said. “I don’t think we played together and it showed and really hurt us. It hurt us on the offensive end and the defensive end, all that being said, that helped Toronto get a win tonight.”
Rudy Gay, who struggled offensively shooting 5-13 for 15 points in his first trip back to Toronto since being traded, confirmed Cousins’ analysis.
“We weren’t making plays for each other and it showed on the stat sheet,” Gay said. “Proof is in the pudding.”
Former Raptors forward Quincy Acy was greeted with a loud scream of, “Quincy we love you” from the somewhere in the back of the lower bowl, but he didn’t get a shot and missed both of his free throws in just under 10 minutes of action. Aaron Gray was the only Kings player with a DNP-CD after his name.
Former Raptor Reggie Evans made his first trip to Toronto after being traded by the Nets to Sacramento and scored 8 points on 3-4 shooting while collecting 10 boards. He did go 2-10 from the free throw line, but in Reggie’s case, it would be hard to blame that on anything except he’s a poor free throw shooter.
With the victory, the Raptors match last season’s win total and move to 34-26 on the season, a full game up on the Bulls for third place in the Eastern Conference and 4 games ahead of the Nets for the Atlantic Division lead. Both Chicago and Brooklyn lost on Friday.
The Raptors looked like the 4 days off between games did them a world of good and they’ll need their energy with a back-to-back on the road against the Timberwolves and Nets starting on Sunday.
The Kings head to Brooklyn to warm up the Nets on Sunday for the big Atlantic Division battle the next night.
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