The Toronto Raptors dug themselves a deep second-quarter hole against the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night, and — despite a valiant effort — couldn’t climb out, as they fell 117-110 in Philly.
The Raptors doomed themselves with an absolutely brutal second quarter defensive effort, as they allowed the 76ers to shoot 86% in the frame, and were outscored 46-27. They fought back after halftime, and got the lead down to two midway through the fourth, but ran out of gas in the end.
Scottie Barnes led all scorers with 29 points; he had 9 rebounds and 8 assists as well. O.G. Anunoby chipped in 17, and Jakob Poeltl had a 14-10 double-double.
Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 25 points, 11 of them coming at the free throw line. He added five turnovers. James Harden had 23 points and 11 assists, and Tyrese Maxey scored 13.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but it was once again a bench-heavy unit that let the Raptors down in the second. With the Raptors trailing 31-30 after one, Precious Achiuwa, Jeff Dowtin Jr. and Chris Boucher joined Pascal Siakam and Anunoby to start the quarter. It went bad fast. Within five minutes the Raptors were down 10, and when the starters filtered back in, the Raptors had lost all energy.
To make matters worst, Embiid and Maxey spent the first half of the quarter on the bench. A 6-0 Danuel House Jr. run with 5:45 to go in the half made it 58-42.
Harden was cooking in the frame, just carving up the Raptors possession after possession. He finished the frame with 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting, and 6 assists. The Sixers shots 18-for-21 from the field — yes, they only missed three shots! They scored 46 points!! They took a 77-57 lead into halftime.
There was off-court drama too, oddly enough, in the second quarter, as Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a Woj-bomb by retweeting a Tim Bontemps story about Nick Nurse “needing time away to reflect” after the season ends.
New ESPN story: Before tonight's game here in Philadelphia, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said he's going to "take a few weeks to see where I'm at" at the conclusion of what he called "a difficult season from a number of standpoints."https://t.co/JP8mFT8nu3— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) March 31, 2023
Now, reading the story, Nick’s comments read much softer than Woj’s retweet would suggest (though his choosing the say them at all at this point in the season is… concerning). But hey — everyone should take some time to reflect after being in a job with one company for 10 years!
The Raptors managed to get a couple stops to start the third, and looked to make a game of it. We have to give them credit — they didn’t quit! They got the lead down to 7, twice, but couldn’t get over the final hump — and when the Raptors went to their bench, things got predictably bad, again, fast.
And if you need an indicator of how bad the bench was tonight… Christian Koloko was the second and last reserve to play in the frame (Boucher was the other). Yep, Koloko got in the game ahead of Achiuwa! Good times.
Things got testy when Koloko picked up a foul on Embiid, then pulled Embiid to the floor, earning himself a technical after review. Nick Nurse was displeased, though it seemed an obvious flagrant or technical in the moment.
In any event, the 76ers finished the quarter on a 12-6 run, and led 99-86 at the end of the third.
The Raptors keep coming in the fourth. They opened the frame on a 10-0, run getting within three on a Fred-VanVleet corner three.
Trailing 103-98, the Raptors got two straight stops, and though they failed to score after the fist stop, another VanVleet three, this one around a Poeltl screen, brought the Raptors within two.
That was as close as they got, though, as the 76ers went on a 7-0 run to take a 110-101 lead with 3:45 to go, and never looked back.
It was a tightly contested first quarter, until about the 4-minute mark as the Sixers — as they have so many times before against the Raptors — lost their composure. Joel Embiid was called for an offensive foul — his second, and an obvious on, as his elbow cleared Jakob Poeltl’s head out of the way — and barked at the officials as he headed to the bench. Doc Rivers then took up the fight and received a technical foul for his effort.
But the Sixers, to their credit, responded with an 8-2 run, led by Georges Niang, of all people. But the Raptors scored the final four points of the quarter, the last on a wicked alley-oop from Barnes to Achiuwa, and entered the second trailing by 1, 31-30.
Barnes had a stellar first quarter, with 10 points one 4-for-5 shooting, 6 assists and 2 steals.
The Raptors start a two-game set against the Charlotte Hornets Sunday afternoon.