DeRozan torches 76ers with 45 points in Raptors’ win
PHILADELPHIA — Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, one of the NBA’s most dynamic scorers, never appears to be in a hurry as he moves about the court.
Yet he always seems to get where he needs to go, and usually more quickly than the defender attempting to stop him.
He added a new wrinkle to his game Thursday night — 3-point shooting.
DeRozan, shooting just 27.8 percent from the arc entering the game, made a career-high six triples on nine attempts while scoring a career-best 45 points in a 114-109 victory over the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers.
“I thought he was a young Ray Allen,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey joked.
DeRozan was less surprised.
“It’s a matter of me just shooting them, and tonight I did,” he said. “I just went out there and (was) aggressive.”
DeRozan was 13 of 21 from the floor and 13 of 15 from the foul line, and he notched five of his points in a pivotal 10-2 run late in the game as the Raptors completed a rally from a 22-point, third-quarter deficit.
“Sometimes you have games where you let your All-Star take over,” said Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, who added 23 points. “The offense may not be as beautiful as it was (Wednesday) night (in a 129-111 victory in Charlotte), but his game was beautiful, and we got a win.”
DeRozan embraces his role as closer.
“That’s our job,” he said, referring to himself and Lowry. “We all understand that. It always comes down to that, sometimes in the fourth quarter, whether it’s me or Kyle. ... We lean to whoever it is that’s got it going to take us home.”
Toronto, down 76-54 early in the third quarter, tied it later in the quarter and was within three at 100-97 with 6:09 left in the game.
DeRozan then started the pivotal run with a free throw. Lowry, fouled by Dario Saric on a 3-point attempt, made all three of his free throws with 4:43 to play to put the Raptors up 101-100, their first lead since the first quarter.
A basket by Richaun Holmes put Philadelphia back in front, but DeRozan’s foul-line jumper with 4:14 left gave Toronto the lead for good at 103-102. He added two foul shots, and a basket by Serge Ibaka gave the Raptors a 107-102 cushion with 3:19 to play.
The Sixers edged within two at 109-107 on Simmons’ foul shot with 1:31 remaining, but DeRozan connected twice at the line, and OG Anunoby added another to make it 112-107.
Serge Ibaka and Delon Wright added 12 points for the Raptors, who won their fifth straight and 11th in 12 games.
Ben Simmons had 20 points to lead the Sixers, who were without center Joel Embiid, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, for the third straight game because of back tightness. Starting guard J.J. Redick also sat out with hamstring tightness.
Robert Covington contributed 19 points and Saric had 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for Philadelphia, which dropped its fourth straight and its eighth in nine games.
The Sixers also fell to 1-7 without Embiid this season, but coach Brett Brown was encouraged.
“I saw great things from this group,” he said. “I saw a team fight without Jo and without J.J. We got up big at home, we ended up losing that lead to a really good team.
“We’re disappointed, but I go a few layers deeper and I see what I see in that locker room and how they genuinely care, and we’re going to get better. We’re going to get better. We’re going to get healthy.”
The Sixers shot 58.7 percent from the floor to move to a 65-50 halftime lead. Covington scored 14 points in the first 24 minutes for Philadelphia, which closed the half with a 23-9 rush.
DeRozan had 24 points in the half for Toronto.
The Sixers extended their advantage to 76-54 on a 3-pointer by Covington with 9:07 left in the third quarter, but Wright came off the bench to key Toronto’s comeback by notching all 12 of his points in the quarter.
The Raptors, who reeled off 14 straight points during one stretch, drew even on Wright’s triple with 1:18 left in the quarter and were down 88-86 entering the fourth.
NOTES: Sixers rookie G/F Ben Simmons, who has been reluctant to shoot jumpers so far this season, made two early in Tuesday’s loss to Sacramento and another in the first quarter against Toronto. “I think we’re going to start to see it more and more,” coach Brett Brown said before the game. “You get a little bit excited when he makes them. He feels more confident more shooting them, but yeah, we need to get that part of his game going.” ... Toronto coach Dwane Casey credited general manager Masai Ujiri and his staff, as well as the Raptors’ player development staff, for the progress of rookie F OG Anunoby, the 23rd overall pick in this year’s draft, and third-year G Norman Powell, a second-round pick in 2015 — “diamonds in the rough,” Casey said. ... Raptors G/F C.J. Miles missed his second straight game after undergoing a dental procedure.