Fred VanVleet recorded his first career triple-double on Friday night, scoring 24 of his season-high 37 points in a scorching third quarter as the Toronto Raptors rallied to defeat the understaffed Utah Jazz 122-108 and extend their winning streak to five.
The Raptors scored the first bucket of the night, then were trailed by up to 17 before a 15-0 solo run in Toronto by VanVleet in the bottom of the third gave them an 85-84 lead. The Toronto guard was only 2 of 11 shots in the first half, but made all eight shots in the third, scoring 17 straight runs for the Raptors in one stretch.
This is the longest streak for a Raptor since Morris Peterson scored 17 consecutive goals on February 27, 2001 against Cleveland. Vince Carter holds the franchise record with 18 consecutive points.
VanVleet had a three to give Toronto a 94-92 lead going into the final quarter. He finished with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
The exhausted Jazz had no response in the fourth, outscored 28-16.
🔥 Fred VanVleet scored 28 points in the second half to sign his first career triple-double!
37 PTS | 10 AST | 10 CER pic.twitter.com/8nNxO7H7fC
The Jazz were 18-5 since defeating the visiting Raptors 119-103 on Nov. 18 and entered the game after winning eight of their last nine games. But Utah, playing its fifth game in eight nights, has found itself where the Raptors have been until recently – struggling to field a team.
The visitors were centerless stars Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles, both in health and safety protocols, while star Donovan Mitchell (back), Mike Conley (knee), Bojan Bogdanovic (finger), Royce O’Neale (knee), Jordan Clarkson (back) and former Raptor Rudy Gay (heel) were all injured.
Hassan Whiteside returned from the concussion protocol. That left the Jazz with nine dressed players, including new 10-day hires Danuel House Jr. and Norvel Pelle.
Utah’s top five were making all of their first starts of the season.
“We just want them to come out and play and compete, to be honest,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, speaking before the game, of his available players.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse has warned Utah is still dangerous.
“I know they miss a lot of their key players – or most of them – but it’s always a really good group of guys who come in and play,” he said ahead of the game. “Guys who are difficult to keep and difficult to defend. “
OG Aununoby added 22 points for the Raptors while Pascal Siakam had 17,
Eric Paschall led Utah with 29 points and Elijah Hughes added 26.
Utah took an early lead with the Toronto shooters coming out cold, making just three of their first 13 shots in an empty Scotiabank arena. Thanks to a 50-foot shot from Malik Fitts to the buzzer, the visitors were leading 40-25 after the first quarter.
WATCH l Jazz striker Malik Fitts hits a midfield shot:
Jazz Fitts hits a half-court shot against the Raptors
As the first quarter draws to a close, Utah forward Malik Fitts takes a 3-point shot off the Toronto half-court. 0:35
With 17 points in the quarter, Paschall was just one short of the Raptors’ five starters combined. Heading into the game, his season high was 13 points.
Utah’s three-point accuracy turned the scoreboard, with Toronto missing 18 of its first 23 attempts from a distance.
The Jazz led by 17 points in the second before entering halftime with a 62-49 lead. VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr. and Scottie Barnes were a combined 1 in 14 behind the three-point line.
The Raptors (5 of 26) shot just 19.2% from behind at three points in the first half, compared to Utah (10 of 22) 47.6%.
Toronto reduced the lead to seven at 67-60, but Utah responded, with a disgruntled nurse who got a technique.
Toronto came on a four-game winning streak following a 117-111 win Wednesday at Milwaukee. It was 8-2-0 in his last 10 home games.
A healthier version of the Jazz, halfway through a five-game road trip that started with wins in New Orleans and Denver, had won 10 straight at home, with their most recent loss on the route Nov. 7 to Orlando.
Before the game, Utah – 14-3 away – was tied with the Brooklyn Nets for the best road record this season.
Gobert, the league’s defensive player of the year, missed Wednesday’s game in Denver. The Nuggets initially said it was a non-COVID disease, citing two negative rapid tests during the day. But a subsequent PCR test was positive.
Gobert also tested positive in March 2020 when the league suspended play. Mitchell tested positive the next day.
The Salt Lake Tribune said Gobert, Mitchell, Ingles, Bogdanovic and Conley did not make the trip north of the border, instead meeting the team in Indiana for the next game on Saturday.
The Raptors continue their three home games on Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans.