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Raptors close out trip with win over Jazz

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Toronto Raptors began their three-game Western trip with a rough loss against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Guard Kyle Lowry made certain the road swing didn’t end with another unpleasant result.

Lowry led the Raptors to their second win in as many nights, scoring a career-high 39 points in a 123-104 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday at EnergySolutions Arena.

“I think we just came out here with a business-like approach,” Lowry said after his 13-for-22 shooting night. “We lost one and gave one away in L.A. We wanted to finish this road trip on a positive.”

Toronto (15-4) completely dominated the first half and withheld the Jazz’s brief second-half surge, looking nothing like a team that was playing its second game in 24 hours and for the third time in four nights far from home.

“We know how tough this (Jazz) team is, especially at home,” Lowry said. “So we didn’t want to give them any confidence to think they could win the game.”

As a result, the Raptors, who beat the Sacramento Kings 117-109 Tuesday, won for the eighth time in 10 games.

DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors past the Jazz in Toronto, 111-93, last month with 27 points. The Eastern Conference-leading club didn’t skip a beat without the injured swingman on Wednesday.

Lowry (15 first-half points) and Greivis Vasquez (14 of his 17 points) help established control before halftime as the Raptors shot 64 percent took a 69-53 lead to the locker room.

“We’re developing a business approach, a professional approach, a mature approach about the game, and that’s what you ask for from a team like this that’s young,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “We came in to take care of business. There wasn’t any bull crap. There wasn’t any laughing and joking around. Guys came in with a focused attitude to start the game.”

It showed.

The Jazz got strong offensive contributions from their frontcourt, as both center Derrick Favors and power forward Enes Kanter finished with 19 points. However, Utah (5-14) fell for the seventh straight time, its longest losing streak since opening the 2013-14 season with eight consecutive losses.

“It’s hard. When you feel like you can’t stop a team, it hurts,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “But you’ve got to keep going.”

The Jazz, who had the same starters for the first 17 games, were forced into using their second different starting group in consecutive games because of guard Alec Burks’ shoulder injury.

Rookie Rodney Hood replaced Burks in the first unit, which was the fourth-youngest starting group in Jazz franchise history with an average age of 22 years, 351 days.

All five Jazz starters scored in double figures, including Hood, who posted a career-best 10 points. Utah, however, didn’t shoot nearly as well as Toronto thanks in part to rough shooting nights by small forward Gordon Hayward (5-for-15, 16 points) and point guard Trey Burke (6-for-15, 15 points).

“They caught fire tonight, for sure, on on us. Especially there in (the second quarter) they put up (38) points or something crazy,” Hayward said. “Frustrating loss for us. I thought we did some good things, but at the end of the day it’s still a loss.”

Rookie forward Joe Ingles scored a career-high 12 points off the bench for Utah, which continues its four-game homestand Friday against the Orlando Magic.

The Raptors return home for a Friday night showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Six Toronto players finished in double figures, including a whopping 79 combined points by the backcourt trio of Lowry, Vasquez and guard Lou Williams (17 points).

NOTES: Jazz G Alec Burks sat out Wednesday and will be sidelined for at least one more game because of left shoulder inflammation. Burks’ injured shoulder was aggravated Monday when he was fouled midair by Denver G Arron Afflalo in the fourth quarter of Utah’s 101-101 loss. … The technical foul that Jazz trainer Gary Briggs received for going onto the court to attend to the injured Burks was rescinded by the NBA on Wednesday. Afflalo was fined $15,000 for using excessive force above the shoulders on Burks. … Toronto improved to 12-25 all-time against the Jazz and 6-13 in EnergySolutions Arena. … Jazz F Steve Novak played for Toronto last season before being traded to Utah in the offseason.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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