On the second night of a back to back, the Raptors avoided a trap game and beat the league-worst Philadelphia 76ers 108-95. Rocking the OVO jerseys, the Raptors made this game a lot harder than it had to be. The first quarter was largely a disaster for the good guys, as they allowed the Sixers to jump out to a 12-0 lead. During this span, Stauskas blocked DeRozan, James Johnson shot one of the worst air balls that I've seen in a while, and Jahlil Okafor was playing so well (10 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in the quarter) that Jack Armstrong was talking about him as a potential Hall of Fame candidate. The Raptors missed their first seven shots before Lowry got them on the scoreboard at the 7:30 mark, and ultimately closed the quarter strong, closing the deficit to one. The Raptors have none other than Terrence Ross to thank for closing the gap, as he dropped nine points in the opening frame.
The first chunk of the second quarter was basically Okafor continuing the eat the Raptors alive, and some lazy Toronto basketball. A notable sequence was Isaiah Canaan hitting a three, stealing an inbounds and connecting again for a personal 6-0 run. The next two plays were two monster dunks by DeRozan, including a reverse alley-oop orchestrated by Lowry. This jumpstarted a 23-6 run to finish the quarter, including a 13-3 run for the final 4 minutes and 8 seconds of the half. Lowry and DeRozan largely took over from Ross, as the three combined for 42 of Toronto's 57 points at the half. Even more impressive than the total is that the three only missed seven combined shots in the opening 24 minutes.
The third quarter was a good one for Sixers fans, as Philly refused to quit. Entering the half down 13, the Sixers rode Ish Smith to fight their way back into the game. The journeyman from Wake Forest was solely responsible for keeping his team in the "big deficit" instead of "blowout territory," as he single-handedly matched the Raptors scoring output for the quarter with 18. The phrase "he was everywhere on the court" was meant for performances like Smith's in the third quarter. Exhibit A: In a single sequence, Ish stole the ball from DeRozan off of an offensive rebound, passed the ball out which eventually got stolen by the Raptors, hustled back on defense and stripped it off of Ross's leg. Ish Smith finished the game with an impressive 28 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
The fourth quarter was largely uneventful as Toronto did what better teams usually do and pulled away. The final frame was an exhibition for big men from both teams. Jonas and Patterson combined for 18 points, while veteran Carl Landry scored all 11 of his points to finish strong for the Sixers. This win makes it 3 straight for the Raptors, who now have 4 days off before they take on the Orlando Magic in London, England.
- I watch an exorbitant amount of NBA basketball, and I would still fail a round of "Who he play for?" if the game consisted of the current 76ers roster.
- "What does a bank like BMO know about basketball?" Anyone else get sick of this ad really quickly? I can't articulate why, but I can tell you that I don't like it.
- For those of you who read my recap of yesterday's game, you'll know that I have a pet peeve regarding the arbitrariness of the Flagrant 1 call. Take a look at McConnell's chase down foul on Ross at the 10:39 mark of the 2nd quarter. This play was just as reckless if not more than the one that got Patterson called for a Flagrant 1 on Otto Porter Jr. last night. The only difference? Ross landed on his feet. Tape don't lie.
- You'd think after the first few times DeRozan pulled the old pump fake and step-through sequence, often referred to as the up-and-under, defenses would catch on. Based on what I saw today, nope.
- I was going to write a damning post about Patrick Patterson, but then he went ahead and scored 8 of his 11 points in the final frame. Here is what I was going to say, and barring the odd strong burst, I think the point still stands. 2Pat is a confounding case as somehow he's become a player that despite playing hard almost every time he's on the court, manages to largely be invisible. There will be large stretches of games where I don't even realize that he's on the court. Perhaps its because from last season to the current one, he's gone from a player who can stretch the floor to one who exclusively camps out at the three point line.
For one, this isn't a great use of his skill set because his shooting is overvalued. This is evidenced by the fact that he is clearly not comfortable taking even the most slightly contested shots. While I'm not advocating that he become the next Charlie Villanueva, he needs to step into his looks confidently if he wants to make something of his minutes. Secondly, while most stretch fours struggle to rebound by virtue of being further away from the basket, I have seldom seen a drop-off like Patterson's. He's averaging the lowest rebounding number since his rookie years, and has grabbed a total of 11 rebounds in his last 5 games. For a reference point, Kyle Lowry grabbed over half of that in today's game. Let that sink in. I don't care that he's a "stretch 4"; that number is unacceptable from a rotation power forward averaging over 23 minutes a game.
- Lastly, when the 76ers started tanking a few years back, I had a hard time conceptualizing how exactly they would achieve it. I wondered aloud if such a plan wouldn't be foiled given that the players would have a natural desire to compete, and ultimately win. After watching this team play over the past few seasons, I've finally grasped the concept. The front office basically signs and trots out players who work hard and out-hustle opposing teams, but ultimately lack the talent to win. For those of you that have played intramurals at university, it feels like watching that one team full of grinders that should be competing in Division 2 but for whatever reason got bumped to Division 1. They can't really score, they make their opponents work for it, but the talent disparity is so big that they don't actually put a scare in anybody.
What did you guys think of the game?