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