- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The only thing that could stop Kyle Lowry against Utah was a collision with Gordon Hayward that resulted in a cut above his lip.

While Lowry was out getting a couple of stitches in the third quarter, the Jazz regained the lead but the Toronto Raptors point guard returned with even more determination.

Lowry took advantage of a depleted Utah guard corps by scoring a season-high 36 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Raptors to a 104-98 victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

“For me, it’s all about winning games. That’s all that matters. I’ll do whatever it takes to win games,” Lowry said.

Lowry was nearly unstoppable whether he pulled up for a 3-pointer or drove the lane unfazed by the lurking Rudy Gobert. He shot 9 for 10 in the final quarter as the Raptors set a franchise record with six straight wins on the road.

“This team just loves the game of basketball. It doesn’t matter where we’re playing, whether we’re in tough environments or not,” Lowry said.

The Jazz led 84-83 with the crowd in full throat before Lowry took over the game with dazzling drives and high-arcing jumpers.

“He just gives us fight and grit. He dove on the floor for a loose ball. Didn’t even hesitate and came back with stitches. That’s the kind of spirit and toughness you got to have to win in this league,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.

DeMar DeRozan, who had 24 points, regained his composure from a cold shooting stretch and a flagrant foul to make two key baskets as the Raptors topped the century mark for the 16th straight game, one behind Houston’s league-leading 17.

“We’re a team that’s just going to keep playing even if things aren’t going our way. Even if we’re missing shots, we have the type of team where any guy is liable to get going and carry us,” DeRozan said.

Gordon Hayward led Utah with 23 points, Trey Lyles had 19 and Shelvin Mack added 17 for the Jazz, who have dropped three straight after winning seven of eight.

DeRozan had missed five closely contested jumpers in the third quarter and his frustration was showing as he glared at the officials. With 38 seconds left in the quarter, DeRozan plowed unabated into Lyles when he wasn’t looking and received a Flagrant 1 foul.

Lyles made one free throw and then Joe Johnson made a 3-pointer to give the Jazz a 74-71 lead, their first since early in the second quarter. Lyles had eight points in the 14-1 run that turned the tables.

The Raptors, who shot 53 percent, have won seven of their last eight games.

DeRozan led the hot-shooting Raptors (58 percent) with 16 first-half points as Toronto took a 56-51 lead.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Lucas Nogueira made his first 3-point attempt of the season and just the second 3 of his career. … Toronto was plus-21 in the 33 minutes that Lowry was on the court. … The Raptors had only 12 assists, five by Lowry, on their 43 field goals.

Jazz: Dante Exum joined Alec Burks (ankle) and George Hill (toe) on the injured list with knee tendinitis. Hood was questionable with the flu but ended up starting and scored just two points in 14 minutes. … Gobert has 10 consecutive double-doubles, longest streak by a Jazz in seven seasons. … Joe Ingles, who leads the NBA in 3-point percentage, made 2 of 4 from beyond the arc.

STAT LINE

Lowry hasn’t scored this many points in a win since his epic 43-point, buzzer-beating performance in a 99-97 victory over Cleveland on Feb. 26, 2016. Lowry shot an identical 15 for 20 from the field in that game.

QUOTABLE

“I’m going to bust Kyle’s lip some more if that’s what it takes to get him going,” DeRozan said. “When your point guard is capable of doing all things he was doing tonight, it makes everything so much easier for us. … It felt like every time the ball left his hands it was going in.”

UP NEXT

Raptors: Play at Portland on Monday in the second game of a six-game Western Conference trip.

Jazz: Visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.


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