Archive for the ‘Philadelphia 76ers’ Category

Evan Turner

The “big Raptors news” of the day was that Sundiata Gaines was released while Trey Johnson was signed to a 10-day contract. Johnson is a six-foot-five combo guard who was the D-League’s leading scorer before his call-up. Gaines seemed to average about two airballs per game in his brief stint with the Raptors, so it’s no big surprise that they decided to give someone else a try.

As you probably know, the Raptors go into tonight’s game with an eight-game losing streak that is their longest since they lost 10 in a row near the end of the 2005-06 season. Coach Jay Triano responded to a question about this skid by saying “It’s about the process more than it is the outcome.” Maybe so, but yeesh… what a painful process.

As has been the case lately with the Raptors during this losing streak, they’re facing another team that’s on a bit of an upswing lately. The Sixers have won four of their last six games and they’re currently seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 19-25 record. That’s right, they’re six games under .500 and they’re not even the playoff seed with the worst record in their conference. In comparison, the Golden State Warriors are also 19-25 but they’re in 12th place in the West at the moment.

Some of the credit for the Sixers’ resurgence has to go to the recent improvement of rookie Evan Turner. He only has 14 double-digit scoring games this season in 42 games, but four of those double-digit performances came in the last eight games. And while his offensive game is rounding into form, he’s already one of the top rebounding guards in the game, averaging 4.5 boards in just 24.7 minutes. Maybe he won’t be a complete disaster as a second overall pick, after all.

Injury report

Toronto: Jose Calderon is back in the lineup tonight, while Sonny Weems and Joey Dorsey will be gametime decisions. Leandro Barbosa and Linas Kleiza are still out.

Philadelphia: No injuries reported.

Five questions

1. Were you at all broken up by the death of the Raptors’ consecutive game three-point record? And is it a coincidence that they followed this up by signing a guy named “Trey”?

2. Speaking of which… can you guess which Raptor was the first out on the floor warming up for tonight’s game? According to Holly, it was Trey Johnson.

3. Will Alexis Ajinca make his Raptors debut tonight? He’s expected to be in uniform.

4. Do the Sixers quietly have one of the deepest benches in the NBA? Their second unit of Turner, Lou Williams, Andres Nocioni, Thaddeus Young and Marreese Speights is pretty solid.

5. I wonder how many players in NBA history start every game they play in a season but play fewer than 20 minutes per game? Spencer Hawes has started in all 43 of his games but averages just 19.7 minutes in those games.

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN2
Liveblog: theScore.com and ScoreMobile with James Borbath
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Julian Wright, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Philadelphia: Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes

Tonight’s pregame song is “Stop Looking at My Moms” by The Astronomical Kid. This song is amazing. That is all.

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The look on Andrea's face says it best. Reggie, you're an animal

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

Amir Johnson and Evan Turner

Exactly one week after the Raptors beat the Sixers 94-86 in Philly (led by Andrea Bargnani’s season-high 30 points), the two teams meet again in Toronto with the Raptors riding a three-game win streak and the Sixers sitting dead last in the Eastern Conference with a 3-11 record. This seems like it should be the rare instance where the Raptors should be considered obvious favourites, but we can assume that Sixers coach Doug Collins has learned a couple of things about the Raptors based on last week’s game.

Considering how he lit them up in the first game and that he’s scored 85 points over his last three games, the time may have arrived for teams to start double-teaming Bargnani — particularly since the Sixers don’t seem to have anyone who can effectively cover him one-on-one.  (Elton Brand will be serving a 0ne-game suspension for this flagrant foul he committed on Javale McGee last night.) Aside from the Raptor debuts of Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic, that’s the main storyline that I’ll be following tonight.

Injury report

Toronto: Now that Ed Davis has been sent down to the D-League to rehab and get some reps, the Raptors have a clean injury slate.

Philadelphia: Jason Kapono has missed the Sixers’ last two games due to unspecified personal reasons (not exactly a big loss there) while Andre Iguodala (right Achilles tendinitis) and Andres Nocioni (bruised left foot) played last night so they’ll probably be in the lineup tonight.

Five questions

1. How will Andrea Bargnani respond to the double-teams he’ll likely face?

2. Can Sonny Weems continue his impressive scoring output with a lockdown defender like Andre Iguodala possibly guarding him?

3. How many minutes will Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic see tonight?

4. Are Raptors fans underestimating the potential benefit that Stojakovic could bring to this team? The Raptors are dead last in the NBA in three-point shooting at 29.6 percent and Stojakovic is shooting 44 percent (11 for 25) from that range this season.

5. Will Stojakovic reach the most significant career milestone of any player to wear a Raptors jersey? He’s five three-pointers behind Dale Ellis for third all-time.

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani
Philadelphia: Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights, Spencer Hawes

Your pregame song for tonight is “Head Like a Hole” by Nine Inch Nails. I just found out that Trent Reznor is reissuing his debut album, “Pretty Hate Machine”, which knocked many a teenager (including myself) on his or her ass back in the early ’90s. This was the first and best song on the album and I just listened to it for the first time in years. It still holds up. “I’D RATHER DIE… THAN GIVE YOU CONTROL!” *kicks over monitor*

Sonny Weems

Words you probably wouldn’t have expected to hear from a Sixers fan before last night: “Man, we really could have used Sammy Dalembert in that game.”

Philly had nobody who could effectively cover Andrea Bargnani in a game where his switch was clearly in the “on” position — Spencer Hawes is too slow and Elton Brand is too short. And so Bargnani scored a season-high 30 points on 12-for-18 shooting while actually trying to rebound and grabbing seven boards in the process.

This was probably Bargnani’s best game so far this season, but it has to be said that he should drop 30 with ease on a team like this. Performances like this are not a revelation for diehard Raptors fans who have been following his career with exasperation. If anything, a display like last night’s is more of a frustrating reminder of what he could be capable of if he could consistently keep his head in the game.

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Is that Andrea digging down on defence?

If you look at the final score and the box score, you would assume you missed a good, tight basketball game.

The truth is, it was a dud.

The game was ugly, especially the first half. It wasn’t even that one team played exceptional defence, but rather that both teams were brutal offensively. The poor shooting did make for a close game though, as neither team opened up a lead of more than seven.

The Raptors didn’t seem to have their legs under them for most of the night, and were out-hustled for three quarters. The only reason we still had a ball game to watch heading into the fourth quarter was because of the play of Andrea Bargnani and Sonny Weems. The two accounted for 59 percent (55 points) of Toronto’s offence tonight.

The fourth quarter was the difference-maker, as the Raps opened the final frame on a 6-0 run to take the lead, watched the Sixers jack up awful shot after awful shot down the stretch, then forced three turnovers in the final couple of minutes to seal it. A DeRozan steal with the Raptors up only one in the dying minutes seemed to be the clincher.

Overall in the fourth, Toronto outscored Philadelphia 25-15, including a 9-1 run in the final 3:20 to close the game.

Reggie Evans had his usual day at the office, grabbing 14 rebounds in 31 minutes and sparking the Raptors’ defence. Amir Johnson fouled out in the fourth quarter, but that’s something Jay should let him do almost every night. Amir brought his usual hustle and did contribute defensively in his 14 minutes of action.

At the point, Jose Calderon bounced back with a solid outing of 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds. Jose has played well for most of the last two weeks, but the other “head” of what was supposed to be a two-headed monster at the point has not.

Jarrett Jack continued to struggle. He forced poor shots on a night when he was bricking everything and took some cheap fouls. Effort is not something you have to worry about with Jarrett, but his play overall seems to have hit a rut.

On a side-note, has anyone else noticed that Jack runs a fast break with his head down? He often misses opportunities for easy assists because he either looks off guys like DeMar and Sonny running down the wings or fails to notice them at all.

A 2-2 road trip is probably what most would have considered the best-case scenario last week. With the schedule beginning to lighten up, the time is now for the Raptors to make a move up the standings. If they can’t get it done over the next month or so, they never will this season.

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 36 Min, 30 Pts, 12-18 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 5-6 FT, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk

76ers Player of the Game: Elton Brand -40 Min, 27 Pts, 9-19 FG, 9-11 FT, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

Goat of the Game: Jarrett Jack – 23 Min, 6 Pts, 2-13 FG, 0-4 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 1 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO