TORONTO, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan scored 40 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the team to a 111-100 victory over Indiana Pacers in Friday night's NBA game.
Entering the season, the three-time All-Star had reached forty points in just two games in his first seven seasons combined in the league. Tonight's effort was his seventh of the season, a franchise-record.
"It's just me understanding the game, how to score, how to get to my spots and not forcing things," said DeRozan after the game. "Picking times to really attack. It's just me being more of a mature player," he added.
DeRozan is currently ranked fifth in the league in scoring with 27.4 points per game, trailing Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (31.8), Houston's James Harden (29.3), Boston's Isaiah Thomas (29.2), and New Orleans' Anthony Davis (27.8).
He also joins elite company as one of 15 players to score 40-plus multiple this season. His seven 40-plus point games is tied with Davis for third most this season, trailing MVP candidates Westbrook (15) and Harden (10). 17 other players have reached the mark once.
In Friday's victory, DeRozan did most of his damage in the third quarter, scoring 16 points. Raptors outscored Pacers 34-20 during the frame to take their first double-digit lead of the game.
"We got to come out that way. We can't give them hope or let them catch rhythm," said DeRozan. "That was on my mind coming out of the second half and trying to push it up to get us going."
Over the last six games, DeRozan has reached the 40-point plateau three times and is averaging 34.0 points on 49.0 percent shooting from the field. Toronto also improves to 13-6 since the All-Star break, a period which they have been without All-Star Kyle Lowry due to a right wrist injury.
"Without him, I try to do the same as if I was Kyle, and try to think for everybody else," said DeRozan on missing his backcourt partner. "Put a little bit more thought in the overall game, and not just getting myself going, but getting everybody else going," he continued.
With the win, Raptors improve to 8-2 over their last ten games and 46-30 on the season. They trail Wizards by half a game for the No. 3 seed and are three behind No. 1 ranked Celtics.
Regardless of their final seeding, DeRozan and his teammates hope the team can peak in the right direction by the start of the postseason.
"You got that confidence, you got that swagger, what you feel internally when things are rolling. You just feel good when you go out there on the court," said DeRozan. "It's something that we're still working our way up in the next six games to get it even higher."