Dwane Casey didn’t have much of an issue with Ricky Rubio’s three-pointer with less than five seconds remaining in Utah’s 97-93 win over Toronto on Friday.
It was how his team started the game that concerned him.
“We started the game out in mud — that set the tone for us the rest of the night,” said the Raptors coach. “Our approach to start the first quarter started our problems for the night.
“Never got the game under control. They did a good job of scratching and clawing, making everything tough on us. We didn’t shoot the ball worth a crap, when we did get to the free throw line, we missed some of those. It was one of those games where I was concerned about being flat.”
Toronto had a sloppy first quarter, turning the ball over four times in the first seven and half minutes while the Jazz hit 10 of their first 14 shots.
Rubio capped the night by draining a shot from beyond the arc with 4.8 seconds remaining. Following a Raptors timeout, DeMar DeRozan missed a game-tying turn around jumper and Royce O’Neale sealed Utah’s victory draining a pair of free throws.
Utah scored 12 of the final 14 points in the fourth.
“It was easy to take that shot,” said Rubio. “I was open and had to take it. There was no other option. It felt good and let it fly.
🎶 I’ve been moving calm, don’t start no trouble with me 🎶 <a href=”https://t.co/ZPn0Suxcar”>pic.twitter.com/ZPn0Suxcar</a>
“I’m not afraid of taking good shots and I like those moments.”
Donovan Mitchell had a team-high 26 points while Rubio finished with 14 points, six assists and six rebounds in the win. Utah (21-26) has now won back-to-back games and three of four.
“It’s a big confidence booster,” said Mitchell. “You come out and pull two games out like this. We showed a lot of grit, I think that’s been the biggest thing.”
Jonas Valanciunas paced the Raptors with a game-high 28 points, 14 rebounds and a career-best two three pointers made. DeRozan added 19 points, eight assists and six rebounds while C.J. Miles chipped in with 10 points off the bench.
With the loss, the Raptors (32-15) earned a split of the season series against the Jazz. Toronto defeated Utah 109-100 on Nov. 3 in the only other meeting between the two clubs this season.
“That’s one game, one bad start. We had a great start in Atlanta, we had a great start in Minnesota. We’ve got to figure it out,” said Kyle Lowry, who finished with five points and seven assists. “It’s a long season, it’s one loss. I’m not mad about it. We’re upset about it, but we’ve just got to get better from it, learn from it, grow from it and get better.”
The Jazz used a 16-4 surge to erase the Raptors’ 10-point lead and tie the game 61-61 with five minutes remaining in the third, and then closed the period out on a 9-2 run to lead 75-69 heading into the fourth.
Mitchell paced the Jazz with 15 third-quarter points.
The Raptors closed the half on a 14-3 run highlighted by an O.G. Anunoby put back jam to lead 48-45 at the break.
Valanciunas led all Raptors with 17 points and nine rebounds while DeRozan added 11 points and six assists. Miles added seven points off the bench.
Rubio led all Jazz scorers with 11 points.
The Jazz led by six, 30-24 after one thanks, in part, to their 54 per cent shooting from the field. Rubio paced Utah with seven points and Rudy Gobert chipped in with six points and five rebounds.
DeRozan and Valanciunas each had seven for Toronto.