Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) gets the ball away from Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) during the first half on an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

DeRozan scores 45 points, Raptors rally to beat 76ers

Toronto star has career-high six three-pointers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 45 points and the Toronto Raptors overcame a 22-point deficit to beat the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers 114-109 on Thursday night.

DeRozan also set a career high with six 3-pointers. 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 3-point attempt, and then two more with 6.4 seconds left put it away.

Kyle Lowry added 23 points to help the Raptors win their fifth straight and 11th in 12 games.

Ben Simmons scored 20 points and had seven of the Sixers’ 23 turnovers in their fourth straight loss. Covington added 19 points and 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.

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 tipoff that Embiid was “probable” and would play barring a setback in warmups.

Embiid didn’t show any discomfort during pregame drills, but was ruled out about 30 minutes before tipoff.

The Sixers were also without starting shooting guard JJ Redick (right hamstring), but used Covington’s 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range to race ahead by 22.

Things quickly fell apart, as Lowry and Delon Wright (12 points) got hot in a 22-2 run that included bad passes and poor shots by the Sixers.

The Raptors, who looked sleepy for much of the first half a night after winning in Charlotte, recovered to improve to 17-1 agains teams with losing records.

TIP-INS

Raptors: DeRozan, a career 28 per cent 3-point shooter, hit all four of his first-quarter 3s and finished 6 of 9 from behind the arc. . F C.J. Miles (dental procedure) missed his second straight game.

76ers: Former Raptors C Amir Johnson started in Embiid’s place. … Redick is doubtful for Saturday’s rematch in Toronto. … F Trevor Booker had four points after missing the morning shootaround with an illness.

FRAGILE EMBIID

Embiid has played in 54 of a possible 277 games since being the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft. That includes two lost years to foot injuries and last season being cut short by knee surgery. He’s yet to be cleared to play on consecutive days because of his knee, and his back has been an on-and-off problem.

UP NEXT

The teams meet again Saturday night in Toronto.

More AP basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

NBA

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