It was a lopsided victory, a blowout, a laugher.
But in the aftermath a 115-91 pounding of the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey insisted it was still invaluable for evaluating the depth of his team early in the season.
“It wasn’t a night off,” Casey said. “We’re still building something and it’s serious.
“It gave us an opportunity to get some work in, look at different people and different combinations.”
The Raptors (3-4) scored the first five points of the night and never trailed on the way to ending a three-game losing streak. Toronto led by as many as 38 points against a Jazz team that dropped to 0-7.
“No matter who you play, you have to give it 48 (minutes),” Casey said. “We started the game out, we ended it playing the game the right way. That’s what we’re looking for.”
A dozen different Raptors had a field goal and the starters got lots of rest in the second half.
Tyler Hansbrough had 23 points off the bench to lead the Raptors before 17,211 at Air Canada Centre.
The 115 points marked the first time this season Toronto has reached the century mark.
The only sour note on the night for the Raptors was a right ankle injury to starting point guard Kyle Lowry. He had nine points in 15 minutes but did not play in the second half.
“I think he just tweaked it,” Casey said of Lowry, who in the locker-room after the game was wearing both shoes and only limping slightly. “If he had to go, he would have been OK.”
The Raptors, wearing green camouflage uniforms in honour of the Canadian Forces, still hardly put on a military precise performance.
They committed 12 turnovers on the night, four less than Utah. Toronto shot less than 50 per cent from the field, while Utah shot 44 per cent.
But playing the third set of back-to-back games in the young season, the Raptors were happy to take the lopsided win before going back out on the road for games in Houston on Monday and Memphis on Wednesday.
“We just needed to get our heads on straight, come out with some focus and take our anger out on somebody,” said Terrence Ross, who had nine points in 17 minutes off the bench. “We just played the way we know how to play, so we came out and took care of business.”
Hansbrough said the Raptors had a better mentality Saturday night than in their three straight losses.
“The whole team just came out and competed and that’s what happened,” he said.
Seven games in, Hansbrough said the Raptors’ second unit is getting more comfortable with each other.
“The more time we get the better our chemistry’s going to get,” he said.
And, with a victory never really in doubt, the guys off the bench got plenty of playing time. Amir Johnson logged the most minutes of any starter and still put in just over half the game.
DeMar DeRozan was the leading scorer among starters, pouring in 18 points in 24 minutes of play as the Raptors briefly threatened to match their largest lead in team history — a 43-point advantage over the Miami Heat on March 19, 2008, a game they eventually won by 42 points.
Gordon Hayward had 24 points to lead the Jazz.
“We didn’t really look at it that they were winless,” said DeRozan.
“Whoever we were playing we thought it was a must-win, especially on our home court. We just tried to come out with high energy.”
The Raptors led 30-16 after the first quarter as Lowry paced Toronto with nine points, hitting three-of-four three-pointers. Jonas Valanciunas chipped in eight points, making his first four shots of the night.
Toronto took a 62-36 lead into the locker-room at halftime with a balanced attack.
Nine different Raptors scored in the opening half, none of them in double figures.
Rudy Gay, Lowry, Hansbrough and Ross each led the way with nine points in the first 24 minutes as Toronto hit 50 per cent from the field, including 7-of-13 three-point attempts.
The Jazz, meanwhile, played like the NBA’s only winless team. Utah had 13 turnovers in the opening half leading to 19 Toronto points. The visitors went into the break shooting just 41 per cent, making only one-of-eight attempts from beyond the arc and attempting 12 fewer field goals than Toronto.Report Typo/Error