SPORTS

Raptors score from distance, handing Kings their seventh straight loss

01/28/2015 09:58 EST | Updated 03/30/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - The Toronto Raptors turned good defence into torrid offence Wednesday night as they lit up the slumping Sacramento Kings 119-102.

Greivis Vasquez and Jonas Valanciunas combined for 21 points in a red-hot third quarter and the Raptors won their fourth straight while handing the Kings their seventh straight loss.

Toronto (31-15) connected on 17 of 34 three-pointers, erasing the season high of 15. The franchise mark is 21, set in 2005 against Philadelphia.

Tied 54-54 at the half, the Raptors outscored Sacramento 39-22 in the third when they converted eight of 10 three-pointers. Vasquez and Valanciunas had four points apiece in the first half before coming alive in the third.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey pointed to the defensive efforts of Valanciunas and Chuck Hayes on Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins in the third.

"I thought the defence set the tempo for our offence," said Casey. "We started being more aggressive offensively. Physicality. It was almost like we were afraid to touch them in the first half. And once we got into them physically, started putting our hands on them, touching them, starting blitzing Rudy (Gay) a little bit more — I think he only had five points in the second half — that's when our offence got clicking and got going in transition."

"Our best offence was our defence," added Vasquez, who finished with 17 points.

Sacramento (16-28) has lost eight of its last 10.

"Neither team was really playing good defence," said Cousins. "It was preached, it was said that whichever team decided to be the first team to play defence was going to win the game and they decided to play defence first. That's the story."

Cousins finished with 13 points and nine turnovers.

Lou Williams had 27 points off the bench and Valanciunas finished with 15 as seven Raptors finished in double figures.

"They're playing with a lot of confidence and they're talented guys," said Sacramento coach Tyrone Corbin, who finished his playing career as a Raptor.

Ex-Raptor Gay, booed all night, led the Kings with 22 points. The rude reception was criticized by Toronto star DeMar DeRozan.

"He didn't do nothing. Quote me on that, stop booing Rudy," said DeRozan who had 12 points on the night.

Canadian rookie guard Nik Stauskas, a first-round draft choice from Mississauga, Ont., making his pro debut in Toronto, finished with eight points from 17 minutes.

Cousins ran into foul trouble in the third quarter, picking up three fouls in short order. Toronto went on an 11-2 run with Valanciunas and Vasquez accounting for all the points as the Raptors led 73-66.

Toronto reeled off another 10-0 run to pad the lead to 90-72 and went into the fourth leading 93-76. Vasquez was good on all four three-pointers he attempted in the third.

The message of the night was Toronto is headed in the right direction.

"We're in a good place, we've got to keep growing and getting better," said Casey. "We're not there yet but let's keep that positive vibe of getting better and doing it as a team and be proud of this team."

"Obviously we want to continue this winning streak and then continue to get better," added Vasquez. "We're not far behind where we want to be but we can't be too happy. We still haven't done anything. We're beating teams that we're supposed to beat. We've got to remain humble and hungry and understand we do have to prove ourselves."

The Raptors wore their camo uniforms, complete with short sleeves, in honour of Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night. More than 400 military and their families were in attendance.

Toronto was coming off a Tuesday night victory in Indiana that saw the team reach the 30-win plateau for the first time before the all-star break.

Casey said his team played the first half like a team on the wrong end of back-to-back games.

"We played like a winning team in the second half," said Casey. "A team that is on a mission, going somewhere with a focus."

Sacramento was well rested, having not played since last Friday with Monday's game in New York postponed due to the expected blizzard.

The Kings were coming off a 126-101 loss to Golden State on Friday that saw Klay Thompson score 52 points while setting NBA records for points (37) and three-pointers (9) in a quarter.

Sacramento is 5-15 since Michael Malone was fired in mid-December with the team at 11-13.

NOTES: Toronto is 72-37 since the seven-player trade with Sacramento on Dec. 9, 2013 ... The Raptors won 117-109 when the teams met Dec. 2 in Sacramento ... Olympian Clara Hughes was in attendance to publicize the Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative.

___

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

MORE:cpSports