TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan dug into his bag of tricks and showed off his long-range game on Friday.
The Raptors guard scored 35 points and matched his career high with six three-pointers as Toronto beat Portland 130-105 for its sixth straight victory over the Trail Blazers.
DeRozan scored 26 of his points in the first half and was 6 of 10 from three-point range.
“DeMar came out of his three-point bag and was making shots,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. ”That’s the difference in the game, vault up and shoot shots with conviction, play with force, play with pace and we stayed with our triggers and played through our continuity stuff and found the right person.”
Toronto improved to 12-1 this season when DeRozan, the Eastern Conference player of the month for January, scores 30 or more points.
The Raptors made 19 three-pointers, setting a season high.
“We moved the ball. We took what they gave us. We were aggressive,” DeRozan said. ”We didn’t really force much and we got shots that we wanted. With a combination of all those things, we played well, too.”
Jonas Valanciunas added 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Toronto (35-16), which also beat Portland on the road on Oct. 30. Fred VanVleet had 16 points off the bench and Kyle Lowry chipped in with 15.
Casey was pleased with his bench’s performance, especially coming off a loss on Thursday night in Washington.
“I’m really proud of the way the bounced back and played,” Casey said. ”We need them, we need their energy, their focus, their attention to detail, their execution because it’s contagious.”
Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers (29-23) with 32 points as Portland had its four-game winning streak snapped. CJ McCollum had 21 and Jusuf Nurkic scored 20.
Lillard became the fastest player in Trail Blazers history to reach 10,000 points in the process.
And although he’s happy about his accomplishment, he credited DeRozan for being a threat from so many different spots.
“He was already a handful with his size and athleticism and how crafty he is,” Lillard said. ”Now you’re chasing him over the top of screens and he’s pulling up from three off the dribble, raising up and shooting it like that’s always been his shot.”
The Raptors entered the matchup two games back of the Boston Celtics for first place in the Eastern Conference standings. It’s the start of the Raptors’ longest homestand of the season (four games) and they also improved their NBA-best home record to 20-4.
DeRozan’s dominance started in the first quarter when he scored 16 points, drained two three-pointers and converted on all six free throws. He and Lowry sat out the entire fourth quarter.
Lillard tried his best to get Portland back in it during the third, making several drives to the rim and producing 12 points.
But VanVleet wouldn’t let the Trail Blazers gain enough momentum — emphasized by a pair of hard fought layup drives that resulted in points. DeRozan then had a three-pointer near the end of the third, giving Toronto a 21-point lead entering the fourth.
The Raptors carried their momentum from the first quarter into the second with a 12-2 run to open up a 29-point lead. The Trail Blazers chipped away at that lead but still trailed 74-52 at halftime.
Valanciunas was 2 for 4 from three-point range to continue his shot shooting from deep of late. He entered the game 5 of 6 from three in his last four games.
VanVleet, who missed Thursday’s game due to personal reasons, finished 6 of 12 from the field in 21 minutes.
Notes: Raptors F/G C.J. Miles (sore right knee) missed his third straight game. … A moment of silence was held before the game for former Raptor Rasual Butler. Butler and his wife died in a single-automobile accident on Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 38. … Toronto wore its black and gold “Welcome Toronto” uniforms. … The Raps host Memphis on Sunday afternoon and Portland travels to Boston the same day.
Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press