The streaking Toronto Raptors scored an easy 94-79 win over Utah on Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Coach Dwane Casey thought his team earned its sixth win in the last eight games.
“When you play the Utah Jazz, it’s a brand of basketball that’s very difficult,” Casey said. “You’re going to have to grind it out. You’re going to have to earn every inch [and] every yard in this place. And we did tonight.”
DeMar Rozan scored 23 points, including nine late in the second quarter, when Toronto eased away to a 55-44 halftime lead.
“I thought he was very efficient in his game,” Casey said. “He made the game look easy for himself. I really like the way he’s growing as a player.”
DeRozan, who was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team last week, also contributed four rebounds and four assists.
“I try and be aggressive and do a little of everything,” DeRozan said. “Try to rebound. Try to pass to my teammates. Not try to score every time down. Just do a little bit of everything.”
Center Jonas Valanciunas finished with 18 points for Toronto, including 12 in the first half. He also grabbed nine rebounds and badly outplayed Utah centers Enes Kanter and rookie Rudy Gobert.
“We juiced him a little this morning — teasing him about how Kanter got after him in the EuroLeague,” Casey said. “So he came out and played. He really made a muscle against him and Gobert. I thought he did a good job of taking it to them [and] being physical. That’s the challenge he’s got to meet to be a big-time player in this league.”
Surging Toronto improved to 26-22 this season and remained four games ahead of Brooklyn in the Atlantic Division race.
“There is not a bad man on this team,” said Amir Johnson, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds against the Jazz. “Everybody gets along together. We all just kind of click. You usually don’t find that. [Somebody] usually has their own vendetta. We don’t have that on this team and it’s pretty cool.”