Offensive-minded Raptors aim to roll past 76ers (Dec 14, 2016)

BY AP • December 13, 2016

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey has called the NBA "a make-or-miss league." This season the Raptors have been making, and winning.

Toronto, which visits the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, entered Tuesday's games leading the NBA in offensive efficiency, averaging 114.9 points per 100 possessions. That's a fraction of a point better than the explosive Golden State Warriors.

The Raptors are also second in the league in field goal percentage (47.6), tied for first with Cleveland in 3-point percentage (40.1) and tied with San Antonio for the lead in free-throw percentage (81.8).

Toronto's 122-100 rout of Milwaukee on Monday night was its ninth victory in the last 10 games, vaulting the Raptors 10 games over .500 for the first time this season, at 17-7. They lead the Atlantic Division and are second in the Eastern Conference only to the Cavaliers, who beat them in last year's conference finals.

DeMar DeRozan poured in 30 points against the Bucks and is fifth in the NBA in scoring at 27.9 per game. Terrence Ross added a season-high 25 in 21 minutes off the bench.

"I mean, we have a whole bunch of great scorers, so when anybody gets going, it's infectious," Ross told the Toronto Star. "Everybody kind of gets in a rhythm -- once you make a shot, somebody else makes a shot. It's a good feeling. I think that kind of spreads throughout the team."

Ross sank 10 of 17 shots against Milwaukee, including 4 of 6 3-pointers. Toronto was 14-of-25 from the arc in all.

Point guard Kyle Lowry, a Philadelphia native, has been particularly hot of late. He scored 18 points Monday and is averaging 24.9 points a game over his last nine games, while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent from 3-point range.

Overall Lowry is averaging 21.2 points and 7.3 assists a game, while shooting 44.4 percent from the arc.

The Sixers (6-18) remain last in the Eastern Conference, but beat New Orleans last Thursday to snap a franchise-record-tying 23-game road losing streak. They followed that up with a 97-79 victory Sunday in Detroit, the first time Philadelphia has won back-to-back road games since December 2014.

Robert Covington had 16 points, Ersan Ilyasova added 15 and Jahlil Okafor contributed 14 against the Pistons, and T.J. McConnell had 12 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and three steals while making his first start of the season at point guard in place of Sergio Rodriguez (illness).

"I think it gives you a little more confidence knowing that you are going to play more minutes," McConnell told "But it's for the wrong reasons, though. We want Sergio here. I just tried to step in and hold down the fort for as long as I could.

"Guys were telling me that I was getting close to the triple-double, so I was just trying to get guys the ball at the end."

Joel Embiid did not play against New Orleans, as he was resting and plagued by elbow inflammation. Nerlens Noel, making his first appearance after missing the first 23 games following minor knee surgery, left the game with an ankle sprain but told he hopes to play Wednesday.

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