A date with the woeful Philadelphia 76ers was just what the doctor ordered for the Toronto Raptors, as Canada’s lone NBA team halted their three-game losing skid Wednesday evening thanks to a 119-103 victory over the last place Eastern Conference club.
The Raptors, coming off a controversial home loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday that featured some questionable officiating, badly needed to get back in the win column. Toronto improved to 6-3 in the wake of the victory, while the Sixers remained winless in the new campaign at 0-8. Philly hasn't collected a victory since March 23.
You'll have to forgive Raps fans if they weren't very optimistic in the early stages of this game. The 76ers came out of the gate on fire, ending the first quarter with a 34-29 lead thanks to 10 points from rookie Jahlil Okafor -- the most points the young squad has had in any game so far this season. Toronto, who was forced to play without DeMarre Carroll for a third straight game, shot just 35 percent from the field in the opening frame.
That's where the optimism ended for Brett Brown's crew, however. Toronto regained its rhythm in the second quarter and carried a 63-57 lead into halftime that ended with a deep buzzer-beating three-pointer from Kyle Lowry.
The Dinos broke the game wide open in the third thanks to newly-appointed starting power forward Luis Scola, who went into full FIBA mode against the hapless Sixers in the form of 17 points compared to Philadelphia's 20. The 35-year-old, who's playing in his ninth NBA season, has as many years of NBA experience as the entire 76ers roster combined -- think about that for a moment.
The Raptors owned a comfortable 96-77 lead into the fourth quarter and were on cruise control in garbage time. Hey, even Brazil's favourite sons Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira made an appearance! Side note: this game was not very exciting.
Lowry finished with a team-high 23 points and eight assists, while Scola ended with 21 of his own in a dominating effort. Jonas Valanciunas continued his solid start to the year by pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds and 11 points. On the flip side, Okafor (26 points, seven rebounds, four blocks) was impressive yet again in just his eighth NBA game and is proving he's going to be a problem in this league for a long time.
Next up on the docket for Toronto is a home tilt against the struggling New Orleans Pelicans before beginning a five-game road trip. They all won't be this easy, and it's abundantly clear just how much the Raps need Carroll back in the fold if they're going to resemble the team we saw in the first five games of the season.
What did you guys think of the game?