- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

TORONTO (AP) - Jonas Valanciunas cherished the chance to focus on basketball on Wednesday night.

The Raptors center scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Toronto’s 125-114 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers - less than three days after he was charged with drunk driving.

“It has been a rough couple of days, but I had to find energy to come out and fight. I felt really good fan support - thank you to them. I felt great, because everybody supported me,” said Valanciunas, addressing reporters for the first time since his arrest early Monday morning.

“I say sorry, and (am) learning to be better.

“It’s been a really good 2½ hours (playing),” he added.

Kyle Lowry topped Toronto with 29 points in his first game back after missing three with a bruised kneecap. Patrick Patterson finished with 17 in the Raptors’ fourth straight victory and seventh in eight games.

DeMar DeRozan added 17 points before leaving the game with a minute to play with a gash over his left eye that required three stitches.

The trouble surrounding Valanciunas didn’t affect his game. He scored the Raptors’ first points of the game, then grabbed a rebound on the Sixers’ first shot, and scored on a dunk on a pass from DeRozan on Toronto’s next trip down the floor.

“I expected it,” Lowry said. “He was going to play like trash or he was going to play amazing. And he played amazing like we expected.

“It’s a tough situation for him to handle, but this is our sanctuary, basketball. We get a chance to be away from everything and basketball is our space, our secret spot. That’s where guys can release a lot of energy and intensity.”

Henry Sims scored 22 points, Michael Carter-Williams added 19, and Thaddeus Young finished with 16 for the Sixers.

The Raptors are headed for the postseason for the first time in six years, and a victory on Friday against the visiting New York Knicks will clinch the Atlantic Division. It will also tie their franchise record for wins of 47 - set in 2000-01 and 2006-07.

But the Raptors were coming off a 102-98 win over the last-place Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, and the Sixers - who recently tied the league record for most consecutive defeats in a single season with 26 - gave Toronto a decent game for much of the night.

“These are the dog days, teams that don’t have anything to play for, our guys see the computer, they see the standings and all the records. But we can’t play that way,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “I told them we’ve got to pick our defense up and not have the mental letdown.”

The Raptors led by only a point midway through the third quarter before taking a 98-89 advantage into the fourth.

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