SPORTS

DeMar DeRozan pours in 27 points in Raptors' 111-93 victory over Utah Jazz

11/15/2014 10:01 EST | Updated 01/15/2015 05:59 EST
TORONTO - James Johnson hobbled to his locker Saturday night, one arm slung around Toronto Raptors teammate Jonas Valanciunas.

From his locker across the room, DeMar DeRozan said loudly, to no one in particular: "Move the cameramen back. Damn camera people. They've taken out some good men."

The performances of DeRozan and Valanciunas were the highlights of the Raptors' 111-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday — a night otherwise marred by an ankle injury to Johnson, when he stepped on a cameraman's foot.

"It is an issue," DeRozan told reporters. "You always hate to see someone get hurt because of that. With me experiencing guys (getting hurt), the Paul George situation (George horrifically broke his leg stepping on the basket stanchion), everything under there. It's kind of scary.

"Hopefully it's nothing too serious with James."

Coming off two uncharacteristically low-scoring games, DeRozan rediscovered his offensive form, scoring 27 points to lead the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors (8-2).

Valanciunas had 17 points and 14 rebounds in his best game of the season, while Kyle Lowry had 19 points, and the Raptors dismantled the Jazz with a sizzling fourth quarter.

Patrick Patterson chipped in with 16 points for Toronto, while Lou Williams scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth.

In his previous two games, DeRozan shot 4 for 15 for 16 points against Washington, then a woeful 3 for 17 for a season-low 10 points against Chicago on Thursday.

But he was back in form against the Jazz, shooting 10 for 17 from the floor on an array of jumpers and dunks.

"When you win or you play well, everybody's hugging you and kissing and on your shoulders. But when you have a bad game, everybody wants to panic," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

"I don't know how many times Babe Ruth struck out but I guarantee you he struck out more than he hit home runs. When you're a scorer for a team like DeMar is for us, you're going to have (off) nights like that. I don't care how many he misses, he's going to come back and hit those same shots and he showed that tonight."

Valanciunas hasn't been at his best all season but was solid at both ends of the court Saturday.

"He got himself involved tonight," Lowry said of Valanciunas. "He rebounded the ball well, he played physical, he played with a lot of energy, he got himself going tonight. So we fed off his energy tonight."

Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter had 18 points apiece to top Utah (4-7).

Neither team led by more than seven points through three quarters that saw the lead change hands 16 times in front of a capacity crowd of 19,800 at the Air Canada Centre.

Toronto has made a habit of strong fourth quarters, and Saturday was more of the same. Williams scored on a pretty 19-foot turnaround jumper that put the Raptors up by nine with just over five minutes to play.

And when Lowry found a sprinting DeRozan, who finished with a massive running slam dunk, it gave Toronto a 13-point cushion with 4:24 to play and brought the fans out of their seats.

The Raptors showed no mercy, as Lowry drained a three to put the home team up by 16 as they cruised to victory.

The Raptors entered the game even with Chicago atop the East, but it was the Bulls that snapped Toronto's five-game winning streak on Thursday, in an ugly 100-93 decision that Valanciunas had called "a cold shower."

The catchphrase going into Saturday's fifth of the Raptors' seven-game homestand was: bounce back.

"It was a grind-it-out game and a lot of it is a byproduct of having some many home games every other day, a very stressful game against Chicago," Casey said. "Right, wrong or indifferent, even though it was just one of 82, mentally it would wear on you. Physically, too."

Johnson, who was coming off a couple of solid performances for the Raptors, left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle — T.V. replays show he rolled it when he stepped on a cameraman's foot.

The mishap had Raptors GM Masai Ujiri livid after the game.

Cameramen at the Air Canada Centre sit in a small apron on the baseline, their backs up against three rows of VIP seating.

Utah, meanwhile, was playing the second of back-to-back games, having edged New York 102-100 the night before.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder praised his young team's performance saying "If you look at the game after three-and-a-half quarters, you have got to feel like there was some really good things."

He also had kind words for Toronto.

"That's a very good team," Snyder said. "They are a team that is difficult to defend when they get going. One of the things that (Casey) does so well and it's a credit to their players too, they complement one another, nobody tries to do too much, they pick their spots where everybody has a role."

DeRozan scored 10 points in the first quarter, and his jumper a couple minutes into the game gave the Raptors a six-point lead. The Jazz went on an 18-8 run to go up by four, and a three-pointer by Burks at the buzzer sent Utah into second with a 25-23 lead.

Kanter led the way with eight points in the second, including a 20-foot jumper that gave the Jazz a seven-point lead — their biggest at that point. A late spurt by Toronto pulled the Raptors to within 49-46 at halftime.

DeRozan had 11 points in the third but it was Terrence Ross's spectacular alley-oop dunk from Lowry — Ross had to reach behind his head to catch the ball — that was the highlight of the quarter, and put Toronto up by seven.

The Raptors host Memphis on Wednesday then cap their homestand against Milwaukee on Friday.

NOTES: Brad Jacobs, Ryan Harnden and E.J. Harnden — three members of Canada's men's curling team that won gold in Sochi — were at the game.

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