Lowry, Raptors hold off Kings 117-109
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Toronto Raptors don't mind spreading the workload around while leading scorer DeMar DeRozan sits out with a torn muscle in his left leg.
That's critical because the mercurial guard has no timetable for a return.
On a night the Raptors played sporadic defense, it was even more important.
Kyle Lowry scored 27 points and made a pivotal jumper with 57 seconds left to lift the Raptors over the Sacramento Kings 117-109 on Tuesday.
Terrence Ross matched his season high with 20 points and reserve James Johnson added 19 points and seven rebounds. Six players scored in double figures for the East-leading Raptors, who had lost two in a row.
''We got the start we wanted, but I am a firm believer in that you finish the way you start,'' Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. ''You can't win in this league thinking you are going to outscore people 117 points and not play defense. That's a huge concern.''
The Raptors, playing their second consecutive game without DeRozan, led by as much as 15 in the first half but were clinging to a 111-107 advantage late in the fourth quarter when Lowry made a 20-foot jumper.
The Kings missed two chances to cut into the lead before Johnson scored on a putback for Toronto. Lowry's two free throws sealed it.
''DeMar is our best defensive player so Kyle has a little more responsibilities as well as T-Ross, me and everybody else,'' said Grievis Vasquez, who had 12 points and seven assists. ''We are winning for DeMar, too. We want him back because he's a big part of our team.''
Rudy Gay had 20 points and a career-high 10 assists for Sacramento. The Kings have lost four straight.
Five players scored in double figures for Toronto, which had not won in Sacramento since Dec. 26, 2008.
It helped that the Kings were also short-handed. Leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins missed his third straight game because of a virus.
The Raptors took full advantage and benefited from Sacramento's own sluggish defense, which continues to struggle without the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Cousins in the middle. Toronto scored 31 points in the first quarter, 35 in the third and shot an even 50 percent from the floor.
''DeMarcus is the anchor of our defense and he's a central figure for our offense,'' Kings coach Mike Malone said. ''But for us to sit here and say our defense without DeMarcus ... There's no excuse not to be able to defend at a much higher level.''
Lowry, who added 13 assists, went 10 of 21 while Johnson shot 9 of 13.
Ross made six of his first eight shots and had 15 points in the first quarter to help Toronto go up 31-22.
Sacramento chipped away at the lead and took a 45-44 lead on Omri Casspi's free throw after Amir Johnson was whistled for a dead ball technical foul. The Raptors scored the next six points and didn't trail again.
Johnson spent one season with Sacramento in 2012-13 when he battled weight problems and averaged just 5.1 points a game. He looked much better in his return and made just his third 3-pointer of the season to go with a blocked shot. ''This is my lucky day,'' Johnson said.
Raptors: DeRozan remains inactive with a torn left adductor tendon. He was hurt during Friday's loss to Dallas and was initially diagnosed as a groin strain. No timetable has been set for his return. ... At one point Toronto had 19 assists, all of them from Lowry and Vasquez. The Raptors finished with 22 assists.
Kings: Cousins continues to be sidelined by a virus that has kept him out since Nov. 26. He had a headache and was running a fever, according to Malone. ... The Kings missed 10 of their first 13 shots from the floor.
Raptors are at Utah on Wednesday.
Kings host Indiana on Friday.