DeRozan scores 33 to lift Raptors over Portland
TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan and newcomer Serge Ibaka continue to propel the Toronto Raptors back up the National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference standings.
DeRozan scored 33 points Sunday to lead the Raptors to their third consecutive victory, 112-106 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
Ibaka added 18 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a block in his second appearance for Toronto (35-24). Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and seven boards, Cory Joseph, who started at point guard in place of an injured Kyle Lowry, finished with 14 points and Delon Wright chipped in with 11.
Damian Lillard led Portland (24-34) with 28 points.
The revamped Raptors, who went into the night in fourth in the Eastern Conference, are trying to make a push back into the top couple of teams in the East, while Portland is scrapping for a spot in the post-season, in 10th place in the West.
The Raptors, who’d beaten the Trail Blazers 95-91 in Portland on Boxing Day, trailed by 12 points in the first half of the back-and-forth affair, and held a narrow 82-80 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Wright scored on back-to-back driving layups to give the Raptors a seven-point lead midway through the fourth, but Portland chipped away at the difference, and when Jusuf Nurkic scored with 4:41 to play, it cut the Raptors’ lead to 98-96.
But Ibaka responded with two long jump shots, then DeRozan, who’d poured in a career-high 43 points two nights earlier in the Raptors’ 107-97 win over Boston, drilled a pair of free throws and Toronto was back up by eight in front a sellout crowd of 19,800 at the Air Canada Centre.
A basket by Lillard would cut the Raptors’ lead to just three with 1:42 to play, but five straight points from DeRozan gave the home team a comfortable six-point cushion with 23 seconds to play.
Lowry sat for the second straight game with a sore right wrist. Tests revealed no significant damage to the wrist, and Lowry is listed as day to day.
“It’s going to be day to day, treated symptomatically,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Swelling’s gone down, so that’s a good sign. We’ll see. He’ll be day to day.
“It wasn’t broken,” the coach added.
Lowry was vocal throughout the game, joining the coaches huddles during timeouts.
Toronto and Portland paced each other through a first quarter that saw 11 lead changes. The Trail Blazers took a 28-25 lead into the second.
The Trail Blazers dominated early in the second, taking a 12point lead when Al-Farouq Aminu drilled a three with 4:52 left in the half.
But the Raptors replied with a 15-2 run capped by a floating jumper from Joseph that gave Toronto a 53-52 lead at the halftime break.
A fadeaway jumper by DeRozan put the Raptors up by eight midway through the third quarter, but Portland had cut Toronto’s lead to two points by the start of the fourth.
The Raptors are in New York to face the Knicks on Monday then play Eastern Conference rival Washington in back-to-back games. They host the Wizards on Wednesday then travel to Washington on Friday.
Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka (9) celebrates after scoring against the Portland Trail Blazers during first half NBA basketball action in Toronto on