TORONTO — The Utah Jazz scored nine points in the first four minutes of Sunday's game. The Toronto Raptors? They scored 72 points over the next 20.
The night was all but over before the second half had even started.
Pascal Siakam had 35 points, Fred VanVleet had 21 points and 11 assists, and the Raptors crushed the Utah Jazz 130-110 with an historic first half — as good a half, said coach Nick Nurse, as he's seen his team play this season.
"We really did want to get out there and play with some pace . . . but creating all those turnovers and getting out and running is, jeez, any time that's going to be good offence," Nurse said.
The Raptors led 77-37 through two quarters — the biggest halftime lead in Raptors history, and the largest in the league this season. It's also tied for the eighth biggest halftime lead in NBA history, and the largest deficit at the break ever for Utah.
The Raptors (15-4) stretched their season-high winning streak to seven games. They have yet to lose in nine games this season at Scotiabank Arena.
The Raptors had eight players score in double figures against a Jazz team that arrived boasting the league's fifth-best defence. Norman Powell scored 15 points, Serge Ibaka had 13 in his first game since missing 10 with an ankle injury, Terence Davis also had 13, Marc Gasol scored all 11 of his points in the first quarter, and OG Anunoby and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 10 apiece.
It was a bounceback game for Siakam, who scored a season-low 10 points on 4-for-22 shooting in Friday's win in Orlando.
"You're just mad," Siakam said. "I'm mad at myself as a competitor. I've always been that way. You understand that there's bad games and you're going to have games where shots are not going to fall. But at the same time, coming into the next game, as a competitor, you always have that mentality to get back to it. You want to get on the floor. I wanted to play yesterday. That's how bad I wanted it."
Mike Conley had 20 points to lead Utah (12-8).
The Jazz looked for the briefest of moments like they might hand the Raptors their first loss at home this season. But they looked helpless when Toronto took off on a 23-2 run in the first quarter.
"We were awful," said Jazz coach Quin Snyder.
The Raptors had compiled a 21-point lead by the end of the frame, and stretched it to 40 by halftime.
"We shouldn't have had any lack of focus coming into a place like this," Conley added. "This is a team we know is playing at a championship level. We didn't match their energy at all. It just was kind of a snowball effect and everybody got down.
"They're tough, they're really tough. They just play so well together."
Utah finally found its form in the third quarter, shooting 60 per cent and paring Toronto's lead briefly to 16.
"I think we gave up 49 points, which you select all and delete it, straight to the trash," Gasol said.
Those 49 points allowed tied a franchise-worst.
"I don't want to really talk about that third quarter if that's all right?" Nurse said laughing. "I'm happy that we get a 20-point win against a quality team like that. You take that every day of the week."
Trailing by 21 to start the fourth, Utah managed to pull within 16 again, but when Anunoby took off for an alley-oop dunk from VanVleet, swinging on the rim to the delight of the Scotiabank Arena crowd, the highlight-reel play had Toronto back up by 20.
Ibaka got a standing ovation when he checked in late in the first quarter, in his first game after missing 10 with an ankle strain. The 30-year-old big man played 23 minutes, and provided some humour late in the game when he mistakenly threw a pass at VanVleet, who was on the bench but hadn't yet sat down.
Kyle Lowry fractured his left thumb in the same Nov. 8 game in New Orleans in which Ibaka was injured, and while Nurse had hoped to have Lowry back Sunday as well, the Raptors coach said the all-star point guard would undergo "one more fitness test."
Gasol led the way with 11 points, including three three-pointers and a dunk that he called "remarkable," in the first quarter for the Raptors, and Toronto led 37-20 to start the second.
Toronto held Utah to a woeful 5-for-25 shooting in a second quarter in which the Raptors seemingly couldn't miss. Hollis-Jefferson shimmied in celebration when his shot bounced four times on the rim before falling about four minutes into the quarter. Toronto shot 61 per cent in the frame.
The Jazz hit 16 of their first 19 shots in the third. They went 8-for-10 from long distance, and when Joe Ingles drained a three-pointer with 2:42 left in the frame, it cut Toronto's lead to just 16. The Jazz outscored Toronto 49-30 in the quarter, and Toronto took a 107-86 advantage into the fourth.
The Raptors have won 11 of their last 13 games against the Jazz.
The game tipped off a busy December home schedule for the Raptors. They play 11 of their 16 games this month at Scotiabank Arena. Canadian Kelly Olynyk and the Miami Heat are in town on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2019.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press