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Raptors process the Sixers 123-114

The Toronto Raptors let it get way closer than they should have, but ultimately came out with the 123-114 road victory against the Sixers in Philly.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest news in the NBA tonight was that the league and the Players’ Association jointly announced a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

In other words: NO LOCKOUT!

Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers squared off in Philly, playing each other for the second time this season. And this time, Joel Embiid played!

It turned out that the Sixers having their MVP wasn’t enough, however, as they fell to the Raptors by a score of 123-114.

During the first quarter, the 18-7 Raptors and 6-19 76ers looked like peers, despite being on polar opposite ends of the standings. The Sixers led 25-22 after the game’s first frame, out-rebounding the Raps 10-9, winning the assist advantage 8-3, and holding Toronto to 38.9 percent shooting from the floor, including 1-for-5 from long range. The Raptors had an uncharacteristic six first-quarter turnovers, leading to seven Philly points.

All that aside, this ridiculous four-point play by Kyle Lowry was the real takeaway from the first 12 minutes of this one:

The two teams continued to play fairly evenly throughout the second quarter, but the Raptors finished the frame strong, ultimately outscoring the Sixers 38-29 in the quarter and taking a 60-54 lead into the half, while dragging their shooting percentage up to 50 percent.

But WHO CARES? A bona fide dunk contest broke out in the second.

First, Terrence Ross with the windmill:

Then, DeMar DeRozan posterized Jahlil Okafor in traffic:

The second half certainly had its flaws, so let’s remember this game for those two monster dunks.

Dwane Casey made a notable switch at the beginning of the third quarter, starting Patrick Patterson over Pascal Siakam. We’ll have to wait and see if this was a matchup-driven decision to face the Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor frontcourt or something we might see more of going forward.

For what it’s worth, that particular lineup (the starters with Patterson in place of Siakam) had a net rating of 24.0 (points scored minus points allowed per 100 possessions) in 75 minutes played coming into this one.

The adjustment worked out just fine too, as the Raptors rode a 32-20 third quarter into a 92-74 lead going into the game’s final frame.

It seemed like the blowout would be on from then on out, but the Sixers made a late push and cut the lead to nine with three minutes to go. The Raptors started to put distance between the two teams again, but the Sixers would make yet another run and cut it to as close as five with 19.6 to go in the game.

They would never get closer, however, with the Raptors ultimately winning 123-114. It ended up a more competitive game than it probably should have thanks to some lackluster defense and sloppy play by the Raptors down the stretch. But a win’s a win and the Raptors are now 18-7.

DeMar DeRozan was the game’s leading scorer with 31 points on 11-for-18 shooting from the field and 9-for-11 from the charity stripe, to go with five boards and three assists. He was also the game’s leader in plus-minus with a +17 in 30 minutes of action.

North Philly’s own Kyle Lowry chipped in 20 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field (including 5-for-10 from deep) and seven dimes, while Jonas Valanciunas added 17 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, and a block.

On the other side of the ledger, Robert Covington had a monster double-double for the 76ers with 26 points and 12 rebounds, Joel “The Process” Embiid had a relatively quiet-yet-balanced nine points, six rebounds, five assists, a steal, and two blocks in 27 minutes, while Jahlil Okafor threw in 17 points.

If you’re keeping track of the Raptors’ road to the best offensive rating in NBA history, they raised their historic efficiency rate to 115.3 (points scored per 100 possessions) tonight by posting a rating of 124.2 in this specific game.

The Raptors are now on a four-game winning streak and are winners of 10 of their last 11 contests. They host the reeling Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, who have lost 11 of their last 14 and now sit under .500 at 12-13.

Kaw-kaw, indeed.