The 21-57 Raptors entered Philadelphia without Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon, and found out, just before tip-off, that they would also be without the services of Amir Johnson and Leandro Barbosa.
In theory, this game probably should have never been a game, but the Raptors were actually keeping things close early on. By early on, I mean the first six minutes. After tying the game at 14 midway through the first quarter, the Raps, who had been playing with energy and a decent effort on the defensive end, went ice cold.
Toronto missed its last 11 shots of the first quarter, and watched the Sixers finish the quarter on a 14-4 run to take a 10-point lead into the second quarter.
Things just got ugly from that point on. The Raptors turned the ball over, committed silly offensive fouls, clanked nasty jumpers, and were shooting under 25 per cent from the field early in the second.
But the Raps did respond with a 9-0 run of their own to get back in the ball game, and despite the fact that they committed 11 turnovers and shot just 37 per cent in the first half, they went into the break down “just” 12. Obviously, digging a double-digit hole in the first half is not ideal, but if you actually watched the first half of this game, you know that it could have easily been a 20-25 point deficit.
Philly must have regretted not putting the Raptors away early, as Toronto broke out in the third quarter. The Raps settled things down offensively, locked in on defence, and relied on the suddenly hot shooting of DeMar DeRozan to turn this into a ball game again.
After struggling to get over the five-point hump, an Ed Davis jam cut the deficit to three, and a Jerryd Bayless jumper put the Raptors ahead, at 71-70, for their first lead since the game was 14-12. After a mostly horrendous first half that should have had them down and out, the Raptors used a scorching third quarter to put themselves in a one-point game after three.
The Raptors continued to hang tough in the fourth quarter, and even had a chance for a game-tying three in the dying seconds, as Jerryd Bayless and DeRozan took over in the final frame. Unfortunately though, for the second game in a row, a solid second half effort could not dig the Raptors out of an early hole. And it was turnovers that killed them.
On to the positives for the Raptors. With a depleted lineup once again, the young core of DeRozan, Bayless and Ed Davis shone bright. Jerryd and DeMar combined for 51 points and knocked down some big shots late in the game, while Davis finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
It was also nice to see Julian Wright providing a spark off of the bench again.
On a random sidenote, Jay Triano was ejected in the fourth quarter during a commercial break, but from what I saw, he was only given one technical foul.
So the Raptors drop to 21-58, but continue to show some promise for the future through their young, talented players. If there is a silver lining in all of this, it is that.
Next is up is a home date with the almost as equally lowly Nets on Sunday night.
Raptors Player of the Game: Jerryd Bayless – 42 Min, 24 Pts, 9-17 FG, 3-6 3Pt, 3-4 FT, 4 Reb, 8 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 TO
76ers Player of the Game: Elton Brand – 35 Min, 22 Pts, 10-16 FG, 2-2 FT, 8 Reb, 1 Blk
Goat of the Game: The Philly faithful. The building looked shamefully empty for a team that is a week away from playoff basketball.