While his teammates seemingly looked ahead to rest and relaxation, fittingly, Toronto’s lone all-star stepped up to secure another win on Wednesday night.

DeMar DeRozan scored 14 of his game-high 31 points in the third quarter, as the Raptors turned a close game into an eventual 104-83 laugher over the Atlanta Hawks.

Even though both teams have been jockeying for third place in the Eastern Conference for weeks now, with the league set to break until Monday, both sides appeared to already have shut it down early on. Toronto shot a dismal 29.2% in the first and offered little resistance (Atlanta assisted on its first 15 buckets, a sure sign not much defence is being played at the other end). Meanwhile, the Hawks, seventh in the NBA in three-point percentage heading in, made just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc through the opening 24 minutes.

“I think both teams were on vacation before the game started,” said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, summing up the snore-inducing start.

But by bearing down in the second half, the 28-24 Raptors can head into the all-star break as division leaders for just the second time in 19 seasons (2006-07) and just six wins behind last season’s total.

Being in first at this point doesn’t mean a ton in the grand scheme of things, but since a dark cloud has followed the franchise for the bulk of its existence, a low bar has been set and pacing the Atlantic in February is still at least a mild achievement.

“It means a lot to be where we’re at right now, but it really don’t mean nothing unless we keep it up,” DeRozan said. “We’ve got to keep it growing, we can’t be comfortable with it because teams in our division definitely (will) still (be) coming.”

Though Toronto has now won 8-of-12 and two straight, DeRozan getting some rest now, even if it disrupts a run, is a good thing.