DeRozan powers Raptors past Trail Blazers, 112-106

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TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan provided the offense, then credited the defense of the Toronto Raptors' two newcomers, Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker.

DeRozan scored 33 points to help Toronto withstand the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry for a second straight game, and the defensive backbone provided by the new duo helped steady the Raptors in a 112-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

"You know, it's veteran guys who know how to play the game," DeRozan said. "Keep it simple. Go out there and play hard on the defensive end and as long as we get stops, the coaches just give us the freedom to just play."

After another slow start that saw the Trail Blazers jump out to a 12-point lead with 4:52 to play in the first half, the Raptors went on a 15-2 run to close out the second quarter and head into halftime ahead 53-52. They then scored the first six points of the third quarter to extend their lead, and in particular DeRozan and Ibaka helped Toronto across the finish line in the fourth as time ran out on Portland.

"We started off slow on D and in the second half we picked it up," Tucker said. "Once we figured out what they were trying to do, we adjusted and started playing well."

Ibaka finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Jonas Valanciunas added 15 points as the Raptors won their third straight game. Toronto wrapped up a second straight season sweep of Portland, having beaten the Trail Blazers 95-91 in Portland on Dec. 26.

Portland dropped to 10-21 on the road. Damian Lillard scored 28 points but felt his team was "average" offensively, although just a few plays away from pulling out the victory.

"You wish you could have a better offensive game when you lose by six points, knowing that if you make a few shots here, take care of the ball, value it a bit more on five or six possessions, then maybe you win a game by six," he said.

DeRozan had his 24th 30-point game of the season.

"I thought that we did a good job on him," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "That's a credit to him. He is an exceptional player, and he makes tough shots. I thought our traps on pick-and-rolls were effective but he has a knack of scoring."


Trail Blazers: G Evan Turner and C Festus Ezeli (left knee) did not play. ... Lillard scored at least 20 points against the Raptors for a seventh straight game, and after shooting 10 of 20 from the floor, has shot at least 50 percent against them in four of his past six meetings.

Raptors: Cory Joseph made just his third start of the season in Lowry's place. ... Toronto has completed season sweeps against five teams this season (Brooklyn, Denver, Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers).


Toronto coach Dwane Casey said Lowry's sore right wrist was assessed over the weekend and it was still structurally sound.

"The images weren't significant, there was no significant showing," he said. "So it's going to be day-to-day, treated symptomatically. Swelling's gone down, so that's a good sign. So we'll see. He'll be a day-to-day thing. It wasn't broken, so that helps."


Dan Shulman, the play-by-play announcer for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball as well as the network's college basketball coverage, was at the Air Canada Centre for the game. A Toronto native, Shulman previously served as the secondary play-by-play voice of the Raptors from 1995-2001.


With Lowry on the shelf, the Raptors put him to work in a suit, taking a seat on the bench and providing some guidance to teammates throughout the game. Casey was impressed.

"I think it's great, he's into it," Casey said. "Most (injured) guys go to the end of the bench, sit down there, eat popcorn, hide popcorn under their seat. We're going to put him on the coaching staff payroll."


Trail Blazers: Visit Detroit on Tuesday looking to snap a three-game losing streak against the Pistons.

Raptors: Visit New York on Monday aiming for a sixth straight win over the Knicks.

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