TORONTO - DeMar DeRozan had zero intention of losing to the Golden State Warriors for a second time this season.
DeRozan had one of his best games of the season as he scored 32 points to lead the Raptors past the Warriors 104-98 on Sunday afternoon, with the memory of Toronto giving up a 27-point lead to Golden State in December still lingering in his mind.
"It was a big win, big win against a great Western Conference team," DeRozan said. "Especially with the way we lost at their place. The way that we lost was definitely tough, we understood that coming into tonight so it was definitely a big win."
Acknowledging that the December loss was something Raptors players had thought about coming into Sunday's contest, DeRozan downplayed his own stellar offensive output.
"I just got out and played, to be honest," DeRozan said. "Just try to go out there and play to win. I understand that every game we go out and play, how important it is and everybody in this locker-room really wants to make the playoffs so I'm just going out there doing whatever I can."
DeRozan did more than just play on Sunday afternoon. He won the efficiency battle against Stephen Curry to give Toronto its first victory against the Warriors with Golden State's all-star guard in the lineup.
While Curry finished with 34 points on 13-for-27 shooting, DeRozan put in an all-star performance, scoring his 32 points on 10-for-16 shooting from the floor and 11-for-12 from the line. He also recorded four rebounds, six assists and a steal.
Kyle Lowry added 13 points and eight assists for Toronto (33-26), while Patrick Patterson had 12 points and five rebounds.
Curry's 34 points for Golden State (36-24) were a game-high. David Lee added 20 points and 11 rebounds.
While DeRozan was quiet about his own big night, he was effusive in his praise of his point guard.
"Whatever I say about Kyle is an understatement," DeRozan said. "We go off him to be honest, man. We just ride off him, that's a hell of a player right there. He's there reason why I'm getting 30 points."
Golden State went ahead by five points early in the fourth quarter before the Raptors reeled off an 11-0 run to take a 92-86 lead with less than six minutes remaining. Toronto's fourth quarter scoring attack was led by DeRozan who scored 12 of his 32 in the quarter.
"We just lost our composure on the offensive end a little bit and didn't play solid enough on the other end in the last five minutes," Curry said. "We had a five-point lead with eight minutes left, they went on an 11-0 run and we didn't have an answer for it."
The game was close throughout, with Toronto holding a five-point lead at halftime. Things remained tight in the third with Curry scoring 14 in the quarter. The Warriors took a three-point advantage into the final quarter, ahead 78-75.
Toronto shot 57 per cent through the first quarter, but found themselves behind by three at the end of one.
Terrence Ross missed the game for the Raptors after spraining his ankle in the first half of Toronto's triple-overtime loss to the Washington Wizards on Thursday. Landry Fields started in his place. It was the second start for Fields this season and he made his presence felt early, scoring six points in the opening quarter.
After the game, Fields was singled out by coach and teammates for stepping up when he was needed.
Casey said he went with Fields in the starting lineup because of what he could bring to the floor defensively.
"He got switched off on Curry a few times and I thought his length helped us," Casey said. "I'm a defensive guy and if guys are willing to play defence they're going to have a big advantage over guys who are not defensive minded. Landry has done that for us and I commend him on his professionalism. Not playing at all, he was ready to go when his number was called."
Lowry echoed the words of his coach.
"Landry's just being professional," Lowry said. "He hasn't played in a while and he comes in tonight, unbelievable defensive effort. Saved me a few times by cutting backdoor, just being there and being athletic the way he can play. He's been through a lot and you're just happy for him as a player, as a teammate. You're happy for the opportunity and the things he was able to do tonight."
For a team that has continued to say that they are 15 players deep, seeing a teammate step up meant a lot to the Raptors locker room.
"We've got great 15, 14, 13 guys. We've got guys, Julyan (Stone), (Dwight) Buycks, Landry (Fields), Steve (Novak), they've been true professionals. People don't see it from the outside looking in, but they're as big a part as this team as anybody."
Jermaine O'Neal was not available for the Warriors after the team discovered he was missing his passport. O'Neal had been with the team for their previous game against New York and head coach Mark Jackson said the team would meet him in Indiana for their Tuesday night game against the Pacers.
Former NHLer and star of the 1972 Summit Series Paul Henderson was in attendance as was current Toronto Maple Leaf Joffrey Lupul.