DeRozan scores 31 points in re­turn to lift Rap­tors

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan re­turned from an an­kle in­jury to lift the Toronto Rap­tors to 118-109 Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion vic­tory over the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers on Mon­day.

Play­ing for the sec­ond time in eight games, the three-time all-star, pic­tured, scored 31 points as the Rap­tors (32-21) won for the sec­ond day in a row.

Kyle Lowry be­came the fran­chise leader in three-point shots made, and fin­ished with 24 points and eight as­sists. Lowry, who now has 804, passed Mor­ris Peter­son’s record of 801. Jonas Valan­ci­u­nas added 21 points and 12 re­bounds.

Blake Griffin had a triple-dou­ble — 26 points, 11 re­bounds, 11 as­sists — to top the slump­ing Clip­pers (31-21), who lost for the sev­enth time in nine games.

The Rap­tors, who were com­ing off a 103-95 vic­tory at Brook­lyn a day ear­lier, got out to a slug­gish start on the de­fen­sive end, but quickly com­posed them­selves, tak­ing the lead late in the first quar­ter and never re­lin­quish­ing it. They headed into the fourth quar­ter with a 97-82 lead, and the game was never in doubt over the fi­nal 12 min­utes in front of a de­lighted ca­pac­ity crowd of 19,800 fans at the Air Canada Cen­tre.

When Norm Pow­ell, who hadn’t played through the first three quar­ters, took flight for a huge al­ley-oop dunk from Lowry, it brought the fans out of their seats and gave Toronto a 17-point lead. J.J. Redick con­verted a four-point play with 6:23 to play, but DeRozan an­swered with a buzzer-beat­ing three to sti­fle any mo­men­tum the Clip­pers might gain. A day after he was a healthy scratch against Brook­lyn, Cory Joseph fin­ished with 12 points in an en­er­getic per­for­mance.

Rap­tors coach Dwane Casey said Joseph hasn’t been the “en­ergy back­bone” re­cently that he was last sea­son.

“He just has to get back to his pickand-roll de­fence that he had last year,” Casey said. “His of­fence has im­proved, but we need that tough­ness from him. I think just to give him a rest phys­i­cally will do that. It’s not like he’s not play­ing hard. He’s bust­ing his butt on ev­ery pos­ses­sion. He’ll get it right. I have all the faith in the world in Cory. He will bounce back.”

Pa­trick Pat­ter­son missed his sec­ond game in a row with a sore knee.

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