Published January 08, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors are well rested and will get back to work Friday versus Rudy Gay and the Sacramento Kings in the finale of a three-game homestand at Air Canada Centre.
Since shipping Gay to Sacramento in a seven-player trade in early December, the Raptors have risen to the top of the Atlantic Division and are 26-14. The Kings acquired Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray from the Raptors in exchange for Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes.
Gay appeared in 33 games for Toronto last season and averaged 19.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 18 games before the trade. He was shooting a career-low 38.8 percent with a higher turnover rate than at any point in his career, so the Raptors dealt him to the west.
The Raptors were last in action in Sunday's 104-98 triumph over the Golden State Warriors and All-Star DeMar DeRozan did his thing to the tune of 32 points on 10-of-16 shooting. DeRozan has scored 30 or more points in a career- best three straight games and is averaging 26.6 ppg in the previous 17.
The last Toronto player to score 30-plus points in four straight games was Mike James, who turned the trick from April 5-11, 2006. DeRozan averaged a team-best 26.4 points in February.
Kyle Lowry had 13 points in the win over Golden State, while Vasquez and Patterson posted 12 points apiece. Lowry is averaging 17.2 points and 8.4 assists over the last five contests, and has handed out six or more assists in nine straight games.
Jonas Valanciunas rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points for Toronto, which is percentage points ahead of Chicago for third in the Eastern Conference standings.
Toronto has won seven of its last nine games and opened the homestand with a loss to Washington, but bounced back versus the Warriors to improve to 17-12 at Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors are 12-4 at home since New Year's Day.
Sacramento kicked off a seven-game trip east with Wednesday's 116-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, as Isaiah Thomas led the way with 25 points and Gay followed with 22. DeMarcus Cousins recorded 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Kings, winners in two straight since a three-game slide.
Cousins is averaging 21.3 points and 11.6 rebounds in his last 12 games and has nine double-doubles over that span.
"It was tough, (Cousins) is a load down there and he's one of the best centers in the league. It is a challenge," said Bucks center John Henson.
The Kings improved to 9-20 on the road and will also visit Brooklyn, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago and Minnesota on the 12-day trek.
Sacramento defeated Toronto 109-101 at home on Feb. 5 behind 25 points and 10 rebounds from Cousins. Gay added 24 points, 10 rebounds and four steals against his former team in that one, while Toronto was paced by Lowry's 21 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
The Kings have won four straight and six of the last seven meetings with the Raptors, but have lost eight of 11 and 10 of the last 15 trips north of the border.