TORONTO (AP) After a 40-point game going into the weekend, DeMar DeRozan helped his teammates score on Sunday to lead the Toronto Raptors past the Philadelphia 76ers 113-105 for their ninth straight home win against their division rival.
DeRozan had just 17 points, but tied his season high with nine assists as the Raptors closed out a four-game homestand by going 3-1.
In the continued absence of All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, out following wrist surgery, DeRozan was only too happy to contribute to the win in any way he could.
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”Sometimes people get so caught up in the scoring, but I watch the game of basketball from the perspective of getting other guys involved as well,” he said. ”When I get a chance to exploit that and my teammates show it for me, it’s great.”
His selflessness didn’t go unnoticed, with a number of the Raptors impressed by the way the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer switched up his game, taking just four shots from the floor in the entire first half.
”It’s big-time, you know,” said Serge Ibaka, who led the way with 24 points and six blocks. ”One time, I passed him the ball and I told him to finish it and he passed it back to me. I asked him why he didn’t finish it and he told me, `You had it.’ When you hear something like that from your best player . that gives you a lot of confidence.”
In falling to their third straight loss, the 76ers were frustrated that they couldn’t close the gap during the fourth quarter. Up 10 points entering the period, the Raptors sat all of their starters except for Cory Joseph, who played just 3:42 in the final frame.
Toronto ultimately pushed its lead to a game-high 17 on a free throw from Norman Powell with 3:49 to play, but although the Sixers scored the next 11 points, Jakob Poeltl’s one-handed jam with 13 seconds left capped the scoring erased any hope of a Philadelphia comeback. The last time the 76ers won in Toronto was Nov. 10, 2012.
”We just couldn’t get over the hump,” said Canadian guard Nik Stauskas, who finished with 14 points. ”We were trying to put on a press, we were trying to slow them down a little bit, trying to get some turnovers and they showed why they are one of the best teams in the league.”
For the second straight game, rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot set a career high in points, with his 23 on Sunday trumping the 19 he had in Friday’s loss to Cleveland. Dario Saric also added 16.
While the injury-riddled Sixers will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season, coach Brett Brown said his team’s strong close to the game bodes well for the future.
”None of us intend on just rolling over,” Brown said. ”We’re playing with a spirit, which I’ve said many times, I hope that the city of Philadelphia is proud of.”
76ers: Saric (left heel) started the game, but was on a 24-minute limit. Saric is the only Sixers player to appear in every game this season. … T.J. McConnell had 11 assists for his 12th game with 10 or more assists, the most by a Philadelphia player since Michael Carter-Williams had 12 in the 2013-14 season. . The Sixers had five players with double-digit scoring.
Raptors: F P.J. Tucker (left knee) missed the game. … DeRozan needs just 199 more points to tie Vince Carter’s single-season franchise record of 2,107, set in the 1999-2000 season. … For the second consecutive game, Toronto wore its black-and-gold alternate uniforms, inspired by Canadian rapper, Drake, the team’s global ambassador. . Toronto improved to 15-6 this season when they shoot 50 per cent or more from the field. . Poeltl tied his season high with 12 points.
ALEX THE GREAT?
D-League All-Star Alex Poythress made his NBA debut with 4:28 to play in the first quarter, entering the game wearing a No. 5 jersey in place of Saric. Poythress, signed by the Sixers earlier on Sunday, was added to the roster under the NBA’s injury hardship exception. He scored his first points on a one-handed dunk over Valanciunas and ended up playing 24 minutes, scoring 11 points.
DEROZAN TO THE POINT
While the Raptors star turned provider in Lowry’s absence, don’t count on it being a regular thing.
”I told him he needs to hurry on back,” DeRozan said of his injured teammate. ”Playing point guard is exhausting.”
The Raptors finished with 25 assists, their fifth straight game with at least 20. That effort got an enthusiastic response from Ibaka.
”We know to win championships takes two things: playing defense and moving the ball on offense,” he said.
76ers: Host Brooklyn on Tuesday looking to register a fourth consecutive victory against the Nets.
Raptors: Visit Indiana on Tuesday aiming for a fifth straight win over the Pacers.