Comfortably atop the Atlantic Division and already with a franchise record for wins before the All-Star break, the Toronto Raptors would like to see some consistency from DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan will try to capitalize on one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams as the Raptors go for a fourth straight win Wednesday night against the struggling Sacramento Kings.
Toronto (30-15) is the only team in the Atlantic with a winning record – and in playoff position – so it’s not surprising that the Raptors have built an 11 1/2-game lead on second-place Brooklyn.
While they appear headed for a second straight division title and rank fifth in the league with 105.7 points per game, coach Dwane Casey feels there’s more to be done.
"We’re still not a finished product," Casey said. "We’ve still got a lot to work on. Guys have to stay hungry, stay focused because it’s a long season."
A healthy DeRozan producing consistently could make Casey fell better. The guard has totaled 49 points on 15-of-29 shooting with 12 rebounds in the last two games after scoring 14 points while missing 28 of 34 shots in the previous three.
He put that stretch further behind him Tuesday, scoring 24 points with six boards to help Toronto win its third straight, 104-91 at Indiana.
"I’m getting more comfortable every single day," said DeRozan, who has played eight games after missing 21 with a torn tendon in his left groin. "Just getting back to used to playing the game I’m accustomed to playing."
DeRozan missed Toronto’s 117-109 win at Sacramento on Dec. 2, but Kyle Lowry picked up the slack with 27 points and 13 assists.
The Kings (16-27) didn’t get a chance to snap their season-high six-game losing streak Monday at New York with that contest postponed by a snowstorm.
Sacramento will now take the court for the first time since being on the receiving end of a spectacular shooting display in Friday’s 126-101 loss to Golden State.
Klay Thompson lit up the Kings’ porous defense, scoring 37 of his 52 points in the third quarter and setting NBA records for points and 3-pointers (9) in a quarter.
Sacramento has allowed 107.8 points during the six-game skid.
DeMarcus Cousins was a bright spot Friday, tallying 28 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. The center is making a strong case to be named to next month’s All-Star game in New York, ranking among the league leaders with 12.6 rebounds. He’s averaged 26.4 points and 13.9 boards over his past seven games.
Rudy Gay went scoreless in 12 minutes Friday before he was ejected for receiving two technical fouls. He averaged 24.3 points on 48.1 percent shooting over the three prior games after missing one with a knee sprain.
Gay came four rebounds shy of a triple-double against the Raptors last month, scoring 20 points with 10 assists.