SPORTS

DeRozan scores 24 points to lead Raptors to rout of hapless Sixers

11/09/2014 09:32 EST | Updated 01/09/2015 05:59 EST
TORONTO - When DeMar DeRozan scored on a spectacular 360 layup Sunday night, he couldn't help but smile to himself.

The highlight-reel basket was the punctuation mark on a night that saw the Toronto Raptors run roughshod over the Philadelphia 76ers with a 120-88 victory, improving their Eastern Conference-leading record to 6-1.

The Raptors are alone atop the East for the first time in franchise history, and the jovial mood was evident in the post-game locker-room.

"Just stay under control," DeMar said, when asked what he was thinking going into the spin move. "As long as I got a look at the basket, I felt like I could . . ."

"He's lying, he was lucky," interjected Kyle Lowry, seated one locker over.

"You try it," DeRozan said.

"It was luck, dog," Lowry answered.

"It was skill. I practised it," DeRozan said.

DeRozan poured in 24 points on a veritable smorgasbord of shots, while Terrence Ross added 17, and Lou Williams finished with 16. Lowry had 14 points, while Greivis Vasquez chipped in with 13, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 in Game 2 of Toronto's seven-game homestand.

Lowry later said DeRozan's spin move was "pretty good. That's what he does. That's why he's an all-star."

The Raptors had talked before the game about getting a lead, and then keeping "our foot on people's necks. . . not give them any hope," DeRozan said.

Mission accomplished. As coach Dwane Casey put it, the NBA is "a no-mercy league."

"If you go in and disrespect them and don't come in with a professional approach, they're very capable, like any other team in this league, of beating you," Casey said. "I respect them, I don't feel sorry for them. I don't feel sorry for teams in this league because they don't feel sorry for us."

Tony Wroten had 18 points to lead the woeful Sixers (0-7), the NBA's worst team. Chris Johnson finished with 16.

The Raptors, who began the night a half game ahead of Washington and Chicago for first in the East, got off to a strong start, taking a 19-point lead in the opening quarter and never took their foot off the gas.

Toronto led 88-63 with one quarter to play in what wasn't the most entertaining of games in front of an ACC crowd of 18,470 that included a bespectacled Drake.

Ross, in his second strong game, drained a three with five minutes to play to give the Raptors a 113-72 lead. The second unit played the final five minutes of mop-up time, but showed no mercy. And when James Johnson threw down a massive dunk with 2:32 to play, it put Toronto up by 41 and brought the fans, the players on the Raptors bench, and Drake, to their feet.

The fans ushered the team off the court with a standing ovation.

"You have to tip your hat off to Toronto, they are one of the best teams in the East right now," said Wroten.

Actually, the best. What does that mean to the Raptors?

"Nothing," Lowry said. "At the end of the day this could turn around in a heartbeat. We're just going out there every day and trying to compete and get better."

Toronto is a perfect 5-0 at home, and has the luxury of playing five more in a row at the Air Canada Centre.

Philly, which is heading in the opposite direction of Toronto, has now lost 70 of their last 86 regular-season games.

As for their spot atop the East, Casey said he wasn't giving it a lot of thought.

"It's great for the fans. It's great for the players to see that, but it's not the most important thing right now," Casey said. "Our most important thing is developing a consistent personality."

The coach praised DeRozan's growth this season.

"He took what the defence gave him. If they gave him a drive, he took it, he didn't force things, he kicked it out and found shooters and his spacing was good," Casey said. "He's becoming a very efficient, smart, under control veteran-type player that you need to have in that position who can score but also takes what the game gives him."

DeRozan led the way with nine points in a sloppy first quarter for both teams. The Raptors shot 69 per cent in the frame and took a 33-20 lead into the second.

Valanciunas went to the rim untouched to stretch Toronto's lead to 47-28 with seven minutes to go in the half. The Raptors went into the dressing room at halftime up 60-45.

DeRozan's beautiful spin move in the third quarter put Toronto up by 23 points, then he scored on a putback layup with 4:28 remaining in the frame to give the Raptors a 27-point advantage. Williams drained a long two at the buzzer to send Toronto into the fourth quarter up by 25.

The Raptors host Orlando on Tuesday then Chicago on Thursday.

NOTES: The last time the Raptors were tied or alone atop the East was Nov. 12, 2004. They were tied with four other teams at 4-2. . . The Raptors swept the Sixers in their three meetings last season for the first time in franchise history.

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