The Toronto Raptors’ team defense, and the clutch jump shots of DeMar DeRozan, proved too much for a game but offensively challenged Utah Jazz team. The visiting Raps, playing in front of a woefully small audience in Salt Lake City, appeared to be in trouble went Kyle Lowry went down. The Jazz crept back from a hefty deficit to be trailing by only 3 with less than 10 minutes to play. However, it was the Raps who found the gas pedal, outscoring the home team 21-9 to win going away.
While it was distressing to watch Kyle miss all but one shot, then leave with what was described as a sore right knee, the pain was alleviated by the manner in which the other Raps stepped up. Greivis Vasquez handled the ball, and the offense, impeccably, not giving up a turnover while scoring 10 points and dishing 4 assists in 27+ minutes. In fact, turnovers were rara avis in this game; the Raps had 6 and the Jazz 11. Amir Johnson, running gingerly on a tender ankle, still managed a double-double. Jonas Valanciunas forced his way inside enough to score 18, and grabbed 9 boards. But it was Q4 DeMar who iced the game, scoring 9 points in crunch time, including a dagger 3-ball with just over 3 minutes to play. He finished with 23 points and 4 assists. John Salmons was our top point-getter off the bench with 13, including half of the team’s six 3-balls.
Terrence Ross continued to struggle with outside shooting, making just 2 of 8. However, his defense, this time on Utah’s leading scorer, Gordon Hayward, was once again excellent. Hayward was harassed all night, and managed a mere 8 points. Without his contribution, the Jazz offense stagnated, and the game would have been a blowout except for the scoring of Marvin Williams (the best game I’ve ever seen him play, by far) and the speedy and athletic Alec Burks. Rookie stringbean Rudy Gobert, a long-armed French giant, played 31 minutes without hitting the scoresheet. The man can defend, however, blocking 3 shots and grabbing 8 boards.
Toronto’s lengthy westward excursion continues tomorrow night in Sacramento. Here’s hoping Kyle is fit enough to face his friend Rudy Gay and the rest of the Kings, including Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy.