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Raptors earn rare win in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY — Even though the Jazz are having a rough year, the Toronto Raptors left Utah with a big sense of satisfaction Monday night.

All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points, and center Jonas Valanciunas added 18 points and nine rebounds as the Raptors earned a rare win at EnergySolutions Arena, beating the Jazz 94-79.

The Raptors, two games into a five-game Western trip, improved to 26-22 after winning in Utah for just the second time in nine visits since 2006.

“When you play the Utah Jazz, it’s a brand of basketball that’s very difficult. You’re going to have to grind it out,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “You’re going to have to earn every inch, every yard in this place, and we did tonight.”

Center Amir Johnson added 11 points and 11 rebounds, guard John Salmons scored 13 points and point guard Greivis Vasquez tallied 12 points as the Raptors won the season series for the first time since 2004-05.

“There is not a bad man on this team. Everybody gets along together,” Johnson said. “We all just kind of click. You usually don’t find that. Everybody usually has their own vendetta. We don’t have that on this team. It’s pretty cool.”

Forward Marvin Williams scored a season-high 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and guard Alec Burks contributed 20 points off the bench for Utah. It wasn’t enough to keep the short-handed Jazz (16-32) from losing for the third straight outing.

“I thought we showed some fight,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said, “but I don’t think it was a 48-minute effort that we can be satisfied with.”

Utah, which started 1-14, lost more than two in a row for the first time since a four-game losing streak from Dec. 4-9. Monday also marked the third consecutive game the Jazz played without Derrick Favors. The starting center, Utah’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder, continues to suffer from right hip inflammation.

In addition, the Jazz played without forward Jeremy Evans, who missed his second game in a row because of soreness in his tailbone and elbow.

“We’ve still got some hurt players, so when they come back, I think we’ll be much better,” Jazz center Enes Kanter said after scoring 10 points and grabbing three rebounds. “Derrick is a defensive-minded guy, and we really needed him tonight.”

Toronto, which outscored Utah 31-17 in the second quarter to gain control of the game, played the final quarter without Kyle Lowry. The starting point guard, who had only two points on 1-of-8 shooting, injured his right knee late in the third quarter and didn’t return after heading to the training room.

That spoiled the good news Lowry received earlier Monday when he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. He averaged 25.0 points, 8.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds as Toronto went 3-1 from Jan. 7-Feb. 2, and he became the fifth Raptor in franchise history to earn the award.

The Jazz trailed 73-62 early in the fourth quarter when an offense that struggled most of the night came to life. Guard Brandon Rush drained a 3-pointer, and then Burks made back-to-back circus layups and a free throw.

That 8-0 Utah spurt helped the Jazz trim Toronto’s lead to 73-70.

The Raptors responded with two free throws from forward Patrick Patterson and an inside bucket by Valanciunas. DeRozan then scored six points in the final six minutes to help Toronto win for only the fifth time in Salt Lake City in 14 trips.

The Jazz only shot 41 percent, including 3-for-17 from beyond the arc. Utah also only had 10 assists as a team, a season low.

“It wasn’t the ball movement. We missed shots,” Corbin said. “I thought we had great shots. We missed some really good looks that we have been making.”

The Raptors shot 41 percent from the floor and hit six of 21 3-point attempts.

NOTES: Jazz F Malcolm Thomas, claimed off waivers on Jan. 25, was selected to play in the D-League All-Star Game, which will take place Feb. 15 in New Orleans. Thomas will only be eligible to play in the showcase event if he is on a D-League assignment at the time. … Toronto coach Dwane Casey proudly sported a Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII hat at shootaround Monday, which isn’t surprising for the Seattle native and friend of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Casey was impressed with Seattle’s defensive performance in the Seahawks’ 43-8 win over Denver. “I told our players, relentless defense wins in any sport,” Casey told the Toronto Star after the Raptors’ morning workout. … Jazz F Marvin Williams, a Washington native and lifelong Seahawks fan, didn’t gloat to mostly pro-Denver teammates about his favorite NFL team’s Super Bowl victory Monday. “I haven’t said much at all. A lot of people are disappointed in the game that it was, but thankfully I came out on the better end of it.” … Raptors G Terrence Ross won the NBA Dunk Contest in 2013, edging out the defending champion, Jazz F Jeremy Evans. … G Kyle Lowry joined former Raptors Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, Mike James and Jalen Rose in earning player of the week honors with Toronto.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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