Earlier in the season, Raptors coach Dwane Casey said something about DeMar DeRozan making the Raptors “his team”.



Now in his fifth season in Toronto, DeRozan has taken charge offensively this year, averaging 21.6 points per game. In fact, prior to Sunday’s 112-98 loss to the surging Denver Nuggets at the Air Canada Centre, DeRozan has led the NBA in scoring since Nov. 15, averaging 28.0 points.

But Sunday, after another frustrating loss — the third straight for Toronto at home — DeRozan took charge in another way. By calling out his team, albeit somewhat gently. DeRozan, who scored 17 points in the loss (the first time in the past five games he hasn’t led the Raptors in scoring), let his frustrations bowl over. And though his tone was measured and his comments delivered almost in a whisper, the message was clear.

“I’m frustrated, period,” said DeRozan, who also picked up seven rebounds and four assists. “Just losing at home, man. I mean, I hate it. I hate it with a passion and we just have to figure it out and turn it around on the road.”

Easier said than done. After three straight losses at home, the Raptors now embark on a three-game western swing, against Golden State, Phoenix and the L.A. Lakers, starting on Tuesday in Oakland. Playing in the west hasn’t been kind to the Raptors in seasons past.

“It don’t matter where we’re playing man, if we’re home or away. We have to understand that we have to go out there and play hard (all the time),” added DeRozan, who was singularly unimpressed that his team squandered a 15-point first quarter lead. “It doesn’t matter what stage we’re playing on. We’ve just got to go out there and win. We just have to do what our assignments are every night.”

DeRozan, who may make the NBA all-star team this season for the first time in his career, also was unimpressed with his club’s defence and its inability to adjust late in the game.

“I don’t know (what it is),” he said. “Sometimes we’re a step late, you turn your head ... whatever it is, we’ve got to fix it. It’s on us to fix and correct it, because we can’t let teams execute whatever they want to run late in the game. We shouldn’t have to keep doing the same thing over and over until we realize we’re doing something wrong. We’ve got to understand what we’re doing from off the gate and correct it on the run. We can’t wait until the next game, or the next practice. We got to get this right, we’re professionals. We’ve got to get it on the go.”

DeRozan’s teammate, Rudy Gay, who scored a team- high 23 points on 10-for-23 shooting, agreed with DeRozan that the Raps have the talent to turn it around.