TORONTO (AP)—Despite a strong start from 3-point range, things didn’t end well for the struggling Sacramento Kings.
Sacramento shot 6-for-9 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, but slumped to 5-for-16 the rest of the way, leaving coach Kenny Natt upset that his team settled for too many outside looks instead of attacking the rim.
“We have to become smarter as a team at driving the ball to the basket,” Natt said. “We just didn’t play very smart, we missed a lot of defensive assignments and they took advantage of it.”
Guard Kevin Martin acknowledged that Sacramento’s first-quarter performance did more harm than good.
“If you start off hot and you’ve got confidence in the 3-ball, you feel like that’s the only thing you can take,” Martin said. “That’s what happened to us. We started missing and we felt like we were going to get back on track but we never did.”
Jose Calderon had 16 points and eight assists as Toronto won its second straight following a season-high seven-game losing streak. Jermaine O’Neal had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Anthony Parker scored 11 points for the Raptors.
John Salmons scored 21 points for the Kings, who are 0-18 against Eastern Conference opponents this season and have not beaten an East team since a 106-100 home win over Toronto on March 16, 2008.
Martin shot 4-for-15 and finished with 12 points, snapping a streak of 13 straight games with 20 or more points.
“Just call it an off night and move on,” said Martin, who needed one more 20-point game to match Los Angeles’ Kobe Bryant and Indiana’s Danny Granger for the longest such streak in the NBA this season.
Bargnani scored 13 points as Toronto broke open a close game by outscoring Sacramento 31-21 in the third.
“He looked pretty good out there,” Salmons said of Bargnani. “He’s definitely one of those guys who is always going to have a mismatch every night and they take advantage of it.”
Toronto has won back-to-back games since Calderon returned to the lineup after he missed 10 of the previous 11 contests with a sore right hamstring.
“He provides that little extra something that we were missing,” Parker said.
Toronto has also benefited from the return of O’Neal, who missed 11 of 12 games with a sore right knee but has come off the bench in the past three. He posted his seventh double-double of the season and his first since Dec. 20 at San Antonio.
“With Jose and (O’Neal) back in the lineup, it gives us a bit of confidence,” Bosh said. “We have guys playing their natural positions again, which is a real key for us, and we’re flowing.”
Bargnani and Bosh, who broke the 30-point barrier for the 11th time this season, were simply too much for Sacramento to handle.
“We knew we wanted to go inside,” Toronto coach Jay Triano said. “That was part of our plan. Our plan was to go inside first and see if we could collapse the defense and that should open things up from the perimeter.”
The Kings slumped to 1-for-4 from 3-point range in the second, while Bosh and Calderon each had seven points for Toronto to give the Raptors a 56-53 lead at the break.
“At halftime, we thought we were in pretty good shape,” Natt said. “They came out and outscored us by 10 points in the third quarter and really set us back.”
Only Memphis has won fewer road games than Sacramento, going 2-17 away from home. … Calderon went 3-for-3 from the free-throw line and has now made 86 straight foul shots dating to last season. That’s the second-longest streak in NBA history behind Minnesota’s Micheal Williams, who made 97 straight in 1993. … Garcia picked up a technical foul for shoving Bargnani under the basket in the third. … The Kings are 4-17 under Natt, who took over when Reggie Theus was fired on Dec. 15.