TORONTO — Fred VanVleet recorded his first career triple-double Friday night, scoring 24 of his season-high 37 points in a red-hot third quarter as the Toronto Raptors rallied to down the undermanned Utah Jazz 122-108 and extend their win streak to five
The Raptors (19-17) scored the first bucket of the night then trailed by as many as 17 before a 15-0 solo Toronto run by VanVleet late in the third put them ahead 85-84. The Toronto guard was just 2-of-11 shooting in the first half but hit all eight of his shots in the third, scoring 17 straight points for the Raptors in one stretch.
That marked was the longest streak by a Raptor since Morris Peterson scored 17 straight Feb. 27, 2001 against Cleveland. Vince Carter holds the franchise record with 18 consecutive points.
VanVleet hit a three to give Toronto a 94-92 lead going into the final quarter. He finished with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
The depleted Jazz (28-11) had no answer in the fourth, outscored 28-16.
The Jazz had gone 18-5 since beating the visiting Raptors 119-103 on Nov. 18 and came into the game having won eight of their last nine. But Utah, playing its fifth game in eight nights, found itself where the Raptors had been up until recently — struggling to field a team.
The visitors were without star centre Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles, both in health and safety protocols, while all-star Donovan Mitchell (back), Mike Conley (knee), Bojan Bogdanovic (finger), Royce O’Neale (knee), Jordan Clarkson (back) and former Raptor Rudy Gay (heel) were all injured.
Hassan Whiteside returned from concussion protocol. That left the Jazz with nine players dressed, including new 10-day signings Danuel House Jr. and Norvel Pelle.
Utah’s opening five were all making their first starts of the season.
“We just want them to go out and play and compete, to be honest,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder, speaking before the game, said of his available players.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse cautioned that Utah was still dangerous.
“I know they’re missing a lot of their key guys — or most of them — but they’re still a very good group of guys coming out to play,” he said before the game. ‘Guys that are hard to guard and hard to defend.”
OG Aununoby added 22 points for the Raptors while Pascal Siakam had 17,
Eric Paschall led Utah with 29 points with Elijah Hughes adding 26.
Utah built an early lead with Toronto shooters coming out cold, making just three of their first 13 shots in an empty Scotiabank Arena. Thanks to a 50-foot shot from Malik Fitts at the buzzer, the visitors led 40-25 after the first quarter.
With 17 points in the quarter, Paschall had just one less than the five Raptors starters combined. Coming into the game, his season game high was 13 points.
Utah’s three-point accuracy kept the scoreboard turning with Toronto missing 18 of its first 23 attempts from distance.
The Jazz led by as many as 17 in the second before going into the half up 62-49. VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr. and Scottie Barnes were a combined 1-of-14 from behind the three-point line.
The Raptors (5-of-26) shot just 19.2 per cent from behind three-point range in the first half, compared to 47.6 per cent for Utah (10-of-22).
Toronto cut the lead to seven at 67-60 but Utah answered, with an unhappy Nurse earning a technical.
Toronto came in on a four-game win streak on the back of a 117-111 victory Wednesday in Milwaukee. It was 8-2-0 in its last 10 home outings.
A healthier version of the Jazz, halfway through a five-game road trip that started with wins in New Orleans and Denver, had won 10 straight away from home, with its last road loss Nov. 7 at Orlando.
Coming into the game, Utah — 14-3 away from home — was tied with the Brooklyn Nets for the best road record this season.
Gobert, the league’s reigning defensive player of the year, missed Wednesday’s game in Denver. The Nuggets initially said it was a non-COVID illness, citing two negative rapid tests during the day. But a subsequent PCR test was positive.
Gobert also tested positive in March 2020 when the league suspended play. Mitchell tested positive the next day.
The Salt Lake Tribune said Gobert, Mitchell, Ingles, Bogdanovic and Conley did not make the trip north of the border, instead meeting the team in Indiana for the next game Saturday.
The Raptors continue their three-game homestand Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press