Raptors storm back to beat Sixers

The Associated Press
Mike Cranston

PHILADELPHIA–With DeMar DeRozan knocking down three-pointers early, Toronto Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey thought he was back in Seattle.
Down the stretch, Casey watched DeRozan do what’s made him a three-time all-star: get to the foul line.
DeRozan combined the two to score a career-high 45 points as the Raptors overcame a 22-point deficit to beat the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers 114-109 last night.
DeRozan, a career 28 percent shooter from three-point range, set a career high with six “threes” in nine attempts in Toronto’s fifth-straight win.
“I thought he was a young Ray Allen,” Casey said about DeRozan’s 4-of-4 first-quarter shooting from beyond the arc, reminiscing of his days as an assistant coach with the SuperSonics in the early 2000s.
“That’s what we need from him,” he added. “It opens up the floor, especially on nights when we just didn’t have it.
“We were playing in mud in the first half.”
DeRozan became more conventional in the fourth quarter.
His jumper with 4:13 left put the Raptors ahead to stay after they trailed 76-54 early in the third quarter.
He hit two free throws with 53 seconds left after Philadelphia’s Robert Covington missed a go-ahead three-point attempt, then two more with 6.4 seconds left put it away.
DeRozan finished 13-of-15 from the line to best the 43 points he scored against Boston last season.
The Sixers only took 14 free throws as a team.
“That’s been my career the past few years, getting to the free-throw line,” DeRozan noted.
“Being able to close out the game and me understanding to slow the game down,” he remarked.
“Get the momentum going our way and try to kill them at the free-throw line.”
Kyle Lowry added 23 points to help the Raptors to their 11th win in 12 games.
“Sometimes you’re going to have games where you let your all-star, your superstar, take over,” Lowry said of DeRozan.
Ben Simmons scored 20 points but had seven of the Sixers’ 23 turnovers in their fourth-straight loss.
Covington added 19 points whil Dario Saric had 18 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists.
Philadelphia, which blew a 16-point lead Tuesday night in a loss to Sacramento, fell to 1-7 without Embiid.
“We need to come and play dirty, play tough,” Saric stressed.
It was another day of uncertainty and false hope for the Sixers regarding their oft-injured franchise centre, who went from “questionable” to “probable” to “out” in eight hours.
Embiid missed two games with back tightness after logging a career-high 49 minutes in a triple-overtime loss to Oklahoma City last Friday.
But the big man participated in shootaround and coach Brett Brown said less than two hours before tip-off that Embiid was “probable” and would play barring a setback in warm-ups.
Embiid didn’t show any discomfort during pre-game drills, but was ruled out about 30 minutes before tip-off.
“He felt OK in the morning and then half-an-hour before the game, we learned he didn’t feel comfortable playing,” Brown said.
“So we decided to rest him again.”
The same two teams meet again tomorrow night in Toronto.
Elsewhere, Cleveland shaded Chicago 115-112, New York beat Boston 102-93, Phoenix nipped Memphis 97-95, and Utah downed San Antonio 100-89.