DeRozan scores 31 points in return to lift Raptors
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.