NBA: Derozan strikes again

Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan drives to the basket as Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant attempts to stop the guard. After Wednesday's game-high 37-point performance, DeRozan leads the NBA in points per game (34.1). The Thunder's Russell Wes
Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan drives to the basket as Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant attempts to stop the guard. After Wednesday's game-high 37-point performance, DeRozan leads the NBA in points per game (34.1). The Thunder's Russell Westbrook is second (31.1).PHOTO: REUTERS

In-form Raptors shooting guard enjoys another big night to lead Toronto past Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY • Try as they might, the Oklahoma City Thunder could not slow down Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan on Wednesday.

He scored a game-high 37 points and Toronto broke through the Thunder's stifling defence to hand them their first home loss of the National Basketball Association season with a 112-102 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"You have to have toughness to go against this team," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of the Thunder.

"This is one of the toughest teams in the league. Billy (Donovan) has created a team that is hard-nosed, (this is) a tough place to play.

"You have to have a strong constitution to be able to come in here and compete with the Thunder."

That answer came in the form of DeRozan, who made 13 of 22 shots from the field and 11 of 15 from the free-throw line.

He has been on an impressive run. Heading into Wednesday's game, the 27-year-old guard has averaged 33.7 points on 52 per cent shooting to kick off the season.

He is averaging more than nine free-throw attempts a game, which is putting defences on their heels.

"You know, sometimes you've got to tip your hat, and good offence can beat great defence," Oklahoma City coach Donovan said.

"He had that happen several times where he made some very, very difficult shots."

Kyle Lowry had 19 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds for Toronto (5-2). Patrick Patterson came off the bench to score 13 points.

"A couple of guys started knocking down shots," DeRozan said.

"We're going to continue to get better. The key was just continue to get stops and give ourselves the best opportunity to get good looks.

"As long as we did that, we felt like we had a great chance."

Russell Westbrook nearly matched DeRozan, scoring 36 points for the Thunder (6-2).

Over in San Antonio, James Harden scored 24 points and dished out 15 assists to lead five Houston players in double figures as the Rockets held on for a 101-99 victory over the Spurs.

Harden also had 12 rebounds, giving him his first triple-double of the season.

In Oakland, Klay Thompson scored 18 of his 20 points in the first eight minutes of the game as the Golden State Warriors spoiled a homecoming for Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut with a 116-95 rout of the Dallas Mavericks.

Facing the Warriors for the first time since leaving as a free agent in the off-season, Barnes matched his best point total at Oracle Arena with 25 points. The forward also grabbed eight rebounds.

Bogut, sent packing in a deal to help the Warriors make room to sign star forward Kevin Durant, was one of six Mavericks either being rested or injured.

"I wish we had gotten a win," said Barnes, who helped the Warriors to an NBA crown last year along with centre Bogut. "But I'm proud of how we fought."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Derozan strikes again'. Print Edition | Subscribe