Stop the presses. The Toronto Raptors, believed by many to be a 60-loss team that probably wouldn’t win four in a row all year, have notched a fourth straight victory, 15 games into the season.
For the second consecutive Wednesday, the Raptors beat up on a struggling 76ers team.
To be honest, it was kind of a snooze-fest inside the ACC tonight. Toronto came out flying and jumped on a struggling team coming off of an overtime loss on Tuesday. The Raps attacked the basket early, knocked down some jumpers and got to the free throw line. They took a quick 13-4 lead, the Sixers hung their heads, and the game was virtually over.
The only things left to decide were: would the fans walk away with free pizza, how many rebounds would Reggie Evans pull down and would the new guys impress? The answers: yes, I lost count and definitely.
62 first half points for the Raptors all but locked up free pizza. Reggie grabbed 15 boards in the first half to set a new franchise record for rebounds in a half and had 22 in total for a new career high that was only two off of the Raptors’ record.
Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic weren’t eye-popping by any means, but both were effective. Peja received one of the louder cheers of the night upon his introduction and knocked down some shots for a solid seven points in just six minutes.
As for Bayless, he forced a couple of shots that looked more like over-excitement than anything else, but still finished with 13 points in 15 minutes on four-of-seven shooting (including a perfect three-for-three from behind the arc). What I liked from Jerryd was how involved he was on the bench. He got up to acknowledge every teammate that walked by him, continuously consulted with coaches and just looked genuinely happy to be here.
I’d say your two new acquisitions combining for 20 points in 21 minutes on six-of-10 shooting is something you’re content with.
Back to Reggie. As monstrous as his night was from a rebounding perspective, the real story for Evans was his 12-point offensive outburst. If Reggie can at least approach respectability on the offensive end, it makes the Raptors, as a whole, a lot tougher to defend.
With 24 points, Andrea Bargnani led the way, offensively, once again. Andrea got whatever he wanted when the ball was in his hands, including whistles when he was so much as grazed.
All in all, it was another solid team effort from Toronto that saw every Raptor who played, score by the second quarter.
A couple of sidenotes to close this thing out.
First, the 76ers are an awful basketball team. In the few games I’ve seen them play this season (including two against the Raptors), they have been atrocious offensively, barely better defensively, and overall, look like they couldn’t care less about either one. Doug Collins looks lost, the team is in disarray and Andre Iguodola will not last the season in Philly. Just another one of those “up and coming” teams that never really came “up.”
And lastly, the Raptors now sit at 6-9. If you remember one of my earlier posts, I believed that with the difficult schedule to start the season, the team should feel alright with a 5-12 or 6-11 record coming out of November. If they can steal one of the next two against the Celtics or Hawks, and come out of the month at 7-10, I will truly believe that this is a team that can and will compete for a playoff spot. Considering the 1-7 start, that’s quite a statement.
Raptors Player of the Game: Reggie Evans -35 Min, 12 Pts, 4-6 FG, 4-7 FT, 22 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk
76ers Player of the Game: Jrue Holiday – 33 Min, 16 Pts, 6-12 FG, 1-2 3Pt, 3-3 FT, 7 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk
Goat of the Game: Evan Turner – 16 Min, 2 Pts, 0-0 FG, 2-2 FT, 2 Reb