Feb 6, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) shoots the ball over Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) in the second half at Air Canada Centre.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
TORONTO (AP) — After missing seven of his team’s last eight games with a sprained ankle, DeMar DeRozan returned to the starting lineup with a bang Monday night.
The All-Star guard barely missed a beat, shooting 50 percent from the field and putting up 31 points in helping the Toronto Raptors overcome a triple-double from Blake Griffin in a 118-109 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Felt great to be back out there just competing with my guys, putting up a victory, especially at home, it felt good,” he said after helping the Raptors to just their fourth victory in 12 games. Toronto had gone 3-4 in DeRozan’s absence.
After falling behind early, the Raptors turned the offense loose, scoring 97 points and shooting 51.5 percent from the field to lead by 15 entering the fourth. From there, they extended their lead to a game-high 20 with 6:41 remaining in the fourth.
DeRozan had missed seven of Toronto’s last eight games with a sprained ankle and was 11 of 22 from the floor. Kyle Lowry scored 24 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and 12 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the season.
“It puts things back in the pecking order,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of DeRozan’s return. “It’s funny how things go when you have so many talented young men, but there is still a pecking order. There is a rhythm with DeMar back in, offensively, how we play defensively.”
In just his sixth game since minor knee surgery that had him sidelined for 20 games, Griffin recorded his fifth career triple-double, and first of the season, in three quarters, finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high-tying 11 assists.
He said he’s starting to find his rhythm, and after recording multiple 3-pointers in a game for the first time this season, added that his perimeter game had been a special point of emphasis for coach Doc Rivers.
“Before the game, Doc texted me and said `I want you to start taking more 3s,’ so I just took it literally,” he said.
Austin Rivers had 22 points and Marreese Speights added 15 off the bench for the Clippers, who lost for the seventh time in their last nine games.
Clippers: F Wesley Johnson (back) sat out. … The Clippers fell to 0-8 when trailing at halftime on the road.
Raptors: F Patrick Patterson (left knee) did not play. Patterson has missed 12 of the team’s last 21 games with knee ailments.
With a 3-pointer at the 2:06 mark of the second quarter, Crawford became the sixth NBA player to reach 2,000 made 3-pointers. He finished with two on the night and joins Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Jason Terry, Vince Carter and teammate Paul Pierce in the 2000 club.
With 14 points, Crawford also passed Eddie Johnson for No. 2 in career NBA bench scoring. He now has 9,572 bench points, trailing just Dell Curry’s 11,147.
Lowry became the Raptors’ franchise leader in 3-pointers when he buried one from beyond the arc with 5:27 to play in the first half. His third 3-pointer of the night gave him 802 in a Toronto uniform, surpassing Morris Peterson’s mark. The crowd gave him a standing ovation when the milestone was announced during a timeout.
Clippers: Visit New York on Wednesday night looking for a ninth straight win over the Knicks.
Raptors: Visit Minnesota on Wednesday night to play a Timberwolves team Toronto has beaten in 22 out of the last 24 meetings.