O'Neal, Raptors secure road win vs. KingsDec 27, 2008 - 7:04 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- The Jermaine O'Neal of yesteryear appeared at Arco Arena Friday night, and the Sacramento Kings had no answers for the rejuvenated veteran.
O'Neal dominated inside and delivered a season-high 36 points on 15-of-19 shooting as the Toronto Raptors ended a 10-game losing streak here by topping the Kings, 107-101.
Toronto (12-17) improved to 2-2 on its five-game road trip with its second straight win.
"Every single play we ran today was to attack inside first," Toronto interim coach Jay Triano said. "Whether it was Jermaine or (Chris Bosh) - if we get a guy going, we're going to keep riding the hot hand."
The strategy paid off as the Raptors hit 55 percent from the floor (38-of-69) and outscored Sacramento in the paint 40-24.
"The team was doing such a great job, guys were finding each other," O'Neal said. "That's a formula coach has installed in us - play unselfish basketball, play tough on the defensive end, and help each other.
"This team is making a lot of great strides."
O'Neal broke a tie game with consecutive baskets that made it 99-95 with three minutes left. The 6-11 center then tacked on a short jumper that tantalizingly rolled around the rim and dropped to push the Raptors up six with 1:12 remaining.
"He was doing it all," Bosh said of O'Neal's effort. "He got some steals, he's quick as a cat down there. He did a very good job. He didn't settle for much, he took it to the rim every time and was getting a lot of points in the paint.
"They couldn't stop him tonight. When you have a guy playing like that, it's a simple game."
Any hopes of a comeback by Sacramento were tossed away with a turnover by John Salmons with 22 seconds to go.
"We were hoping that John could get the ball back, that's why we had him take it out of bounds," Sacramento interim coach Kenny Natt said. "But the defense collapsed on him and unfortunately we weren't able to make a play."
Salmons and Brad Miller led the Kings with 20 points each, but Miller was torched by his former teammate on the defensive end much of the game.
"It was the old Jermaine," said Miller, who played alongside O'Neal in Indiana for two seasons. "He's tough (inside) when he's healthy and feeling good obviously. He just got a little bit of everything going."
With O'Neal on the bench, Toronto pushed out to its biggest lead at 92-83 with 8 1/2 minutes remaining after Joey Graham broke free underneath for a dunk.
But Sacramento re-grouped following a timeout and rallied. Miller scored on a tough layup, then converted from 20 feet to tie the game at 92-92.
After that, it was back to the Jermaine O'Neal show and a fifth consecutive loss for the Kings, who fell to 1-5 since the firing of Reggie Theus and dipped to 5-10 at home.
Toronto ran its road record to 6-8 with the victory and will finish off the current trip against the Portland Trail Blazers - O'Neal's first team when he jumped from high school to the pros in 1996 - on Saturday.
"That was my first love," O'Neal said of his Portland experience. "The fans out there have been great. I've been fortunate enough to play in three outstanding cities. Playing in Portland was kind of like the people who mixed the batter and got the cake ready.
"Getting back to a city Portland, where (my career) originated, I feel good about it."
Jose Calderon heated up from outside and O'Neal dominated inside to key a 16-3 stretch early in the second half that pushed the Raptors on top by five before settling for an 85-82 lead heading into the fourth.
Bobby Jackson ignited the Kings in the second quarter with eight points as Sacramento turned a four-point deficit after one period into a 56-51 advantage at the half.
SACRAMENTO 101 FINAL
Dec 27 12:32 AM
SACRAMENTO 82 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 26 11:52 PM
SACRAMENTO 56 HALFTIME
Dec 26 11:08 PM
SACRAMENTO 26 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 26 10:35 PM
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