Raptors bring red-hot offensive attack to Sacramento
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Toronto Raptors took their most explosive stretch of home basketball this season and brought it out on the road with them. The question to be answered now is whether the road can slow them down.
No recent opponent has been able to do that.
The Raptors (16-7) bring the Eastern Conference’s third-best mark into Golden 1 Center on Sunday when they face the Sacramento Kings in an afternoon matinee. They also bring with them a run of offensive basketball that figures to be a mighty challenge for the home team.
Toronto has averaged 115.0 points while scoring at least 100 in their past 11 games, and they’re rolling at a 120.0 clip during a season-best five-game winning streak. A 116-107 victory at Memphis on Friday marked their lowest output in four contests.
Overall, the Raptors average 111.7 points a contest this season, good for third in the league. They also play the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns during a four-game trip.
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry remain the primary options offensively, and they have combined to average 40 points and 12.1 assists per contest. DeRozan has not been held below 20 points in his past four contests, and Lowry hasn’t been held below 10 in 14 straight contests.
Toronto’s reserves gradually have taken pressure off them with some of the league’s best production, a point highlighted in its win against the Grizzlies. The reserves scored 24 points in the second half, and guard Fred VanVleet played the final 15 minutes alongside Lowry, a scenario that has become routine during the winning streak.
“I’m enjoying it,” VanVleet told reporters after the game. “It’s the best time to be in the game with all the marbles on the line closing it out. As long as my conditioning holds up, I’ll be alright.”
Still, coach Dwane Casey told reporters after the win at Memphis that his group needs to lock down defensively more quickly in games. Toronto allowed 34 points on 70 percent shooting in the opening quarter against the Grizzlies.
“We got to get our motors going earlier and not allow teams to jump on us,” he said.
The Kings (8-17) beat the New Orleans Pelicans 116-109 in overtime on Friday to earn their second win on a four-game road trip, and they’re far from the pushovers they were in the season’s first month. Sacramento is 7-9 over their past 16 contests.
They’ve beaten Toronto four consecutive times over the past two seasons.
Sacramento’s reserves have been awfully good recently, too. They average a league-leading 50 points a game for a team that is 30th in the NBA with a 96.4 per game scoring average.
“We all try to stay aggressive, because that’s what we are,” guard Buddy Hield told the Sacramento Bee during the trip. “We’re a bunch of scorers. That’s what we do. When coach puts us in … (we) bring some type of spark, some type of energy and get us going again.”
Kings coach Dave Joerger has used nine starting lineups this season but has settled recently on a rotation that has Hield coming off the bench, where he’s shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 58.5 percent from 3-point range. He shot 35.4 percent in seven games as a starter.