Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard scores career-high vs. Jazz

Kawhi Leonard was very good for the Toronto Raptors against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night. More

Kawhi Leonard was very good for the Toronto Raptors against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night. More

Leonard scored 19 points in a master-class third quarter, on his way to a career-high 45 points.

The 27-year-old defensive stalwart was 16-of-22 from the field and 13-of-17 from the free throw line.

"It's the flow of the game, I guess", Crowder said of not getting another shot attempt late in the fourth. Dante Exum suited up (and had a great game, I might add), but he was also ailing from right shoulder soreness.

Raptors: Toronto is 5-2 on New Year's Day, including a 4-0 mark at home. While Leonard went into the break with a team-high 15 points, his frustration with a lack of calls was apparent. Utah wasn't getting points to match except from small forward Jae Crowder.

Toronto guard Kyle Lowry sat for the eighth time in nine games because of a sore lower back.

Coach Nick Nurse expressed optimism about Lowry's improvement, saying the point guard is "progressing really well", and the absence "shouldn't be too long".

"I think so, yeah, I think so", Nurse said before tipoff. "Each day we'll be monitoring him and seeing when he's going to be ready to go".

The team also announced that Valanciunas had sutures removed from his surgically repaired left hand on December 29.

Valanciunas has been out since December 12 with a dislocated thumb.

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Utah's front court posed a big challenge to a Toronto squad sans Valanciunas on Tuesday.

Therefore, with Kyle out of commission in this contest against Utah, the Jazz may very well have a nice edge at the point guard spot, whether Rubio is able to go or if Dante Exum starts again and continues his recent tear. And when Gobert left the floor, Favors could rollick in the paint, particularly against Toronto backup centre Greg Monroe.

Favors, on a layup, and Mitchell, on a 14-foot jumper, concluded the first-half scoring and gave the Jazz a 53-51 lead.

Toronto opened the third with a 9-0 run, and eventually stretched its lead to 12 points midway through the quarter.

Leonard scored 10 points in the first quarter, and all five Raptors starters made at least one basket as Toronto led 26-24 after one.

"That's good, we all got to witness that live and in person", Nurse said of Leonard's outburst. "He was phenomenal", said Leonard. "Kind of been waiting for one of these nights where he makes them all".

"We trapped him in pick and roll". He scored in the post, he scored in isolation, he scored going to the rim over Rudy.

"Jae was hot", Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "We did a pretty good job on him in the first half, but he obviously got it going".

Norman Powell added 14 points off the bench for Toronto. Utah outscored Toronto 22-5 in second-chance points. His 19 points were the second most in any quarter by a Raptors player this season.

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