Leonard scores career-high 45, Raptors beat Jazz 122-116
By IAN HARRISON
TORONTO (AP) Kawhi Leonard was so good Tuesday night, Raptors coach Nick Nurse just wanted to enjoy the show.
Leonard scored a career-high 45 points, Pascal Siakam had a career-best 28 points with 10 rebounds, and Toronto beat the Utah Jazz 122-116.
"That's good, we all got to witness that live and in person," Nurse said of Leonard's outburst. "He was phenomenal. I've kind of been waiting for one of these nights where he makes them all."
Norman Powell scored a season-high 14 points, and the Raptors won their fourth straight at home despite playing without All-Star guard Kyle Lowry (sore back) and center Jonas Valanciunas (dislocated left thumb).
"The way he's playing right now is really big for our team with a lot of guys out," Powell said of Leonard.
Leonard shot 16 for 22 overall, missing all three attempts from 3-point range, and went 13 for 17 at the free-throw line. He said he wasn't aware of his scoring achievement until after the game.
"I try to stay in the moment and keep competing every possession and not worry about myself, just try to get a team win," Leonard said.
It was the third 40-point game of Leonard's career, including a 43-point effort against Memphis in Game 4 of the first round in April 2017.
Leonard has scored 20 or more points in a career-best 14 straight games.
"Jae was hot," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "It's unfortunate that we didn't capitalize on the night that he had."
Leonard made all seven of his field-goal attempts in the third quarter and added five foul shots. His 19 points were the second most in any quarter by a Raptors player this season.
"He scored in the post, he scored in isolations, he scored going to the rim over Rudy," Snyder said. "Eventually we started hitting him when he walked across half court. The biggest thing was we put him on the line."
After making two 3-pointers in the first half, the Raptors connected on their first three long-range shots of the third quarter, turning a two-point halftime deficit into a 12-point edge midway through the quarter.
"Those nine quick points really changed the game," Snyder said. "It gave them a big lift."
Siakam went 3 for 3 from 3-point range in the third and scored 13 points. Toronto outscored Utah 44-32 to take a 95-85 lead into the fourth.
Rubio started after sitting out Saturday's win over New York because of a sore left knee and sore lower back, while Crowder was back after missing the victory over the Knicks because of a sore left thumb.
Jazz: Utah has lost nine of 12 meetings against Toronto. ... Utah outscored Toronto 22-5 in second-chance points. ... Favors and Gobert each had nine rebounds. ... Crowder went 5 for 7 from 3-point range. His career high is six made 3-pointers. ... The Jazz have lost five of six on the road.
Raptors: Toronto is 5-2 on New Year's Day, including a 4-0 mark at home. ... C Jonas Valanciunas had stitches removed from his surgically repaired left hand Saturday. Valanciunas still has a splint on his hand. ... VanVleet scored seven points, failing to reach double figures for the first time in eight games. ... Toronto matched a season-low with 20 3-point attempts. ... Serge Ibaka scored 20 points in the first quarter of a Nov. 4 road win against the Los Angeles Lakers, the most by a Raptors player in a single quarter this season.
Lowry sat for the eighth time in nine games. Before the game, the Raptors said Lowry had travelled to New York last Friday to receive anti-inflammatory injections. Lowry's condition continues to improve but there is no timetable for his return.
QUARTER TO REMEMBER
The Raptors set a franchise record with 44 points in the third quarter.
Jazz: Visit Cleveland on Friday night.
Raptors: Visit San Antonio on Thursday night.
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Updated January 1, 2019