TORONTO—Fred VanVleet still had a loss from two days prior dwelling on his mind when he took the floor yesterday against the L.A. Lakers.
A motivated VanVleet set out to make up for Toronto's loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday against the Lakers, as he poured in a career-high 25 points off the bench in a 123-111 bounce-back victory.
“Obviously you want to get that bad taste, bad feeling away, make it go away,” noted VanVleet.
“I thought we could've played a lot better against Utah.”
DeMar DeRozan had 19 points and seven assists while Kyle Lowry finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey and his staff will coach Team LeBron in the 2018 all-star game thanks to the win.
The victory moves Toronto a game back of the Boston Celtics for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Celtics' coach Brad Stevens is ineligible because he coached at last year's event.
“I think for our organization to give what we're trying to do here in Toronto, something special, to talk about [it] for a weekend, and to put a light on our program and see what we're doing, is the most important thing,” said Casey.
Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle each had 17 points to pace the Lakers.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 16 points.
Leading 97-86 with 9:31 to go, Toronto went on a 13-2 run to push its lead to a game-high 22 points.
VanVleet scored 13 in the fourth quarter while C.J. Miles added 11 to preserve the win.
The Raptors (33-15) completed the season sweep after defeating the Lakers 101-92 in their only other meeting back on Oct. 27 at the Staples Center.
The Lakers (19-30) saw their four-game win streak snapped.
“We just didn't play well enough to win against a team like this on the road,” said Lakers' coach Luke Walton.
"We didn't make shots.
“You got to really go after it and get it and for whatever reason, we didn't play with that same edge [tonight],” he noted.
L.A. cut Toronto's lead to five by hitting three-consecutive three-pointers early in the third, but the Raptors used a 7-0 surge to push the lead to 74-62 midway through the period.
DeRozan poured in 12 third-quarter points, pushing Toronto's lead to 91-77.
The Lakers continued to struggle shooting, going just 7-of-19 from the field in the quarter.
VanVleet, who is listed as six-foot, paced Toronto with 12 second-quarter points as the Raptors led 59-49 at the break.
“He's got small-man complex," said DeRozan. ”He thinks he's six-foot-eight, but he realizes when he goes in there he's five-foot-nine. . . .
“But he manages," DeRozan added. "He's one of the toughest guys when it comes to that.”