The Toronto Raptors are under .500 and on top of the Atlantic Division.
More games like this one and they’ll get that winning record.
DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points and Rudy Gay had 18 to help Toronto beat the Philadelphia 76ers 108-98 on Wednesday night.
In a down year so far in the Atlantic Division, the Raptors (5-7) wrested away first place from the Sixers (5-8).
”It’s a great accomplishment to be in that position,” guard Kyle Lowry said. ”But we still have to keep it up. We have to take all the good from it, learn from it and grow.”
DeRozan and Gay dominated the Sixers in the second half to turn this one into a rout. Gay hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 15 points in the third quarter, and DeRozan scored 30 points through the first three quarters to build a 16-point lead.
The Raptors may not have a winning record, but they have themselves in first place.
”We’re nowhere near where we need to be,” coach Dwane Casey said. ”We’ll take it, but it’s early. We’ve got to continue to work and stay hungry.”
The Raptors can ask Philadelphia how easy it is to lose the top spot. The Sixers were the surprise first-place team in the division thanks to 3-0 start, featuring wins over Miami and Chicago. But reality has set in for a team that was expected to rank among the worst in the NBA.
Spencer Hawes hit his first nine shots and finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers.
Philadelphia’s fourth straight loss came on the heels of an 0-3 road trip. The Sixers started Daniel Orton and James Anderson, and a bench made up of Hollis Thompson, Brandon Davies and Lavoy Allen is one of the weakest in the league.
”Teams go on losing streaks, it happens sometimes,” Allen said. ”Everyone needs to fill a role and get back to what we were doing earlier.”
Led by DeRozan, the Raptors pulled away to a 55-48 halftime lead. He hit three 3s in the half and scored 22 points, putting him on pace to top his career high of 37. He didn’t slow down in the second half as much as it was his teammates simply taking turns dominating the ball.
”That’s how we’ve got to play, get everybody involved, everybody going,” DeRozan said.
Against a woeful defense, the Raptors shot 12 of 21 on 3-pointers through three. Terrence Ross, who had 17 points, and Steve Novak ended the quarter with consecutive 3s to close a 15-5 run. The Raptors finished with a season-high 14 — already the eighth time the 76ers have allowed 13 or more.
Hawes was the only Sixers player who at least was able to make this one a game. He hit his first five free throws and his first three 3-pointers to keep it close. Hawes finally missed a free throw in the third, only to have Allen put it back for a bucket that cut it to 76-70. The Raptors wouldn’t let the lead dip below six points the rest of the way.
DeRozan was fouled on a 3-point attempt late in the fourth and hit all three free throws to make it 107-92 in front of an almost empty arena.
The Raptors were just the latest team to put up big points against the Sixers, who have allowed 100-plus points in 11 of 13 games this season.
Michael Carter-Williams returned to Philadelphia’s starting lineup after missing the previous four games with a bruised left arch. He scored 10 points. Evan Turner had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Starting forward Thaddeus Young missed the game for personal reasons.
”When you don’t have Thaddeus, do you go big ball, do you go small ball?” coach Brett Brown said. ”When you play that type of judgment game, it gets harder to manage those periods.”
NOTES: Lowry, a Philadelphia native who played at Villanova, had most of the team over for a family dinner Tuesday night. He had 13 points and 10 assists. . . . The 76ers waived F Kwame Brown and G Darrius Morris. They signed free-agent guards Elliot Williams and Lorenzo Brown. . . . Brett Brown was whistled for a technical. . . . The Raptors had a season-high nine blocked shots.