DeRozan scores 33 to lift Raptors over Portland

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - LORI EWING

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.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Toronto Raptors for­ward Serge Ibaka (9) cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing against the Portland Trail Blaz­ers dur­ing first half NBA bas­ket­ball ac­tion in Toronto on

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