Following an absence of more than six weeks due to a groin tear, Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan rejoined the fray Wednesday night, putting in a team-high 20 points in a 100-84 win against the visiting Philadelphia Sixers.

Needless to say, the Raptors — backcourt mate Kyle Lowry, in particular — were thrilled to have DeRozan back in the fold.

The All-Star played 28 minutes in his return.

Per the Globe and Mail:

Kyle Lowry had a smile that wouldn’t go away, even as he picked up clothes that lingered over from DeMar DeRozan’s locker stall into his own and tossed it back at his backcourt mate with a mock scolding. […] “Sorry guys,” a snickering DeRozan said to a waiting throng of reporters. “We’re like an old married couple.”

 

Lowry finally had his best teammate back, and the weight loaded on the point guard’s shoulders seemed to lighten. Lowry himself lightened too. […] “He gets guys some open shots and takes some attention off me, and it’s always good when you get your All-Star back and he can get 20 points on 14 shots in such an efficient way,” said Lowry. “Tonight, he played how he always plays.”

 

It had been 21 games since Toronto’s All-star shooting guard skidded out on the floor while driving to the hoop against the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 30, and then lay there clenching and groaning in pain. The Raptors went 12-9 without him and their brand of play had slowly turned from defensive-minded to free-wheeling without DeRozan there to slow the pace. Offence picked up but defence suffered. It was a style that would never win in the playoffs.