The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif.–Kawhi Leonard isn’t making a big deal out of Toronto’s NBA-best 11-1 start.
He’s trying to stay focused on the nuances of coach Nick Nurse’s offence.
Once that happens, Leonard says, the Raptors really will get rolling.
Leonard had 25 points and 11 rebounds in his return from an ankle injury as Toronto beat the Sacramento Kings 114-105 last night.
Pascal Siakam scored 21 points, Serge Ibaka had 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Kyle Lowry added 16 points and eight assists.
“This isn’t our ceiling,” Leonard said. “With me not even knowing some of the offence, we have Kyle in the game most of the time.
“Once I start learning the offence, I can give him a little break and let him get some easier shots,” he noted.
“I don’t really know the offence in and out yet.”
Toronto now has won five-straight since its lone loss this season at Milwaukee back on Oct. 29.
The Raptors pulled away against the Kings despite 23 turnovers.
“We were lucky to come out with this one,” Danny Green admitted. “You look up and down the line, the only thing we beat them in was rebounding.
“That’s a good sign for us; to show how good this team can be.”
Leonard sat out the previous two games and got off to a sluggish start early against the Kings before helping Toronto pull away.
The two-time all-star scored 10 points in the second quarter and 10 in the third, including a soaring, one-handed dunk through traffic.
Leonard also made a pivotal three-pointer in the fourth quarter after Sacramento had pulled to within 106-99.
“He was a little rusty at the start but he made some really big baskets late,” Nurse said.
“They sent lots of bodies to him, which was good for us to see.”
Toronto has won three-straight against the Kings.
Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield scored 24 points apiece for Sacramento.
De’Aaron Fox added 20 points while and second-overall draft pick Marvin Bagley III had 13.
The Kings have lost two-straight since winning five in a row.
“They don’t make a lot of mistakes and they tortured us for the mistakes that we did make,” Sacramento coach Dave Joerger said of Toronto.
“They did a good job of bottling us up.”
Toronto ended the first quarter on a 15-4 run, then took control once Leonard got going in the second after Sacramento got in foul trouble.
Leonard made five free throws in the period–one coming after a frustrated Joerger was called for a technical foul for arguing with officials.
Leonard also had a three-pointer that put the Raptors up 49-40.
Green added back-to-back “threes,” and OG Anunoby followed with a steal and dunk as Toronto took a 64-51 halftime lead.
Toronto held a 51-35 rebounding edge, an area where the Raptors have not had much success this season.
The 51 boards were a season-high for Nurse’s team.
“I told them we did one rebounding drill today at shoot-around and look what happened,” Nurse said.
“So look for some more in practice coming up.”