Toronto Raptors rookie Terrence Ross is beginning to make a name for himself and has contributed to his team's recent success, which can resume with another solid outing Friday versus the Sacramento Kings.
Ross is averaging 14.0 ppg in his last five and scored a career-high 26 points off the bench in a 102-79 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday in the opener of a six-game homestand. DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis scored 24 and 19 points, respectively, while Amir Johnson had 17 points.
"We've been efficient moving the basketball," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We have to keep playing determined. We have lots of games to go. We have to keep the effort up."
Toronto, which has won three in a row and eight of nine games, shot a scorching 53.2 percent (41-for-77) from the field and turned 18 Portland turnovers into 28 points. The Raptors are unbeaten in five straight games at Air Canada Centre, where they own an 8-5 mark.
The Raptors halted an eight-game slide to the Trail Blazers and will also host Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Milwaukee. Raptors leading scorer DeRozan (18.4 ppg) is averaging 18.3 ppg in his last 10 games.
Sacramento will continue its four-game road trip north of the border and is coming off Wednesday's 97-94 win at Cleveland.
DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points, 16 rebounds and six assists for his fourth straight double-double and is averaging 16.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists over that span. Cousins, of course, just served a one-game suspension and missed another for conduct detrimental to the team.
"I've been trying to keep out the negativity, not bring the negativity and have a positive mind," Cousins said. "This is a fresh start, this is a fresh year and let's put all that behind us and bring positivity to Sacramento."
The Kings trailed, 90-89, late in the game before scoring five straight points on a John Salmons three-pointer and a basket by Aaron Brooks.
Jason Thompson recorded a double-double of his own with 19 points and 10 boards and Francisco Garcia added 14 points for the Kings, who have won five of their last eight games and improved to 2-13 away from home. The Kings had lost seven in a row on the road and rebounded from a loss at Detroit in the opener of the eastern road swing.
Sacramento still has the Brooklyn Nets left on the trek and will visit the Barclays Center Saturday night. In injury news for the Kings, guard Marcus Thornton is doubtful for Friday with a sprained left ankle. He has missed two straight games and is averaging 13.3 ppg.
The Kings defeated Toronto, 107-100, at home on Dec. 5 this season and are 4-1 in the past five meetings. Cousins tallied a team-high 25 points and a game- best 13 rebounds in last month's matchup. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry led all players with 34 points and a game-high 11 assists.
However, the Kings have dropped 10 of 14 trips to Air Canada Centre.