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Raptors Fall Short In Second Straight Loss To Sixers

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Video: Game In Six | Calderon | Triano | Johnson | Weems | DeRozan | Sonny's Slams | DeMar's Dunk

October 7, 2009

TORONTO (CP) - Sonny Weems sprinted downcourt for a fast-break dunk late in the third quarter Wednesday that brought his new Raptors teammates seated on the bench to their feet cheering with delight.

The athletic Weems doesn't come with a stacked NBA resume, and knows he'll have to show the coaching staff exactly what he can do.

Weems, who played just 12 games last season in his rookie year with the Denver Nuggets, scored 12 points in an energetic performance at the Air Canada Centre, but the Raptors dropped to 0-2 on the pre-season with an 84-79 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

``It is challenging (to play with confidence), especially me, not playing the whole season last year, playing with guys who've been playing in the league, playing throughout their careers, and me, I'm just starting. For me, this is basically my first NBA game,'' Weems said.

``I didn't play last year with the Nuggets, got traded to a new team and there was no guarantee I was going to play here. I have to work as hard as I can to get into the rotation.''

Marco Belinelli had 12 points and Reggie Evans had nine points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes for the Raptors, who played for the second straight night without captain Chris Bosh and off-season acquisition Hedo Turkoglu.

Rookie DeMar DeRozan added nine points, while Jose Calderon, coming off a season plagued by a hamstring injury, finished with just two points but dished out six assists in 20 minutes.

Thaddeus Young led the Sixers with 11 points, while Elton Brand and Montreal's Samuel Dalembert had 10 points apiece a night after Philadelphia beat Toronto 107-98 in London, Ont., in the pre-season opener for both teams.

Weems, who was acquired in off-season trade that sent Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic to Milwaukee - and who bears a striking resemblance to former Raptor Joey Graham - shot 6-for-13 from the field and was a key part of a fourth-quarter Raptors run that pulled Toronto within two points with 15 seconds left.

``We're just trying to find out where Sonny's going to fit, he brings a dimension that this team doesn't have, athleticism, a guy who can really run the floor and jump and we just wanted to see what he can bring,'' Raptors coach Jay Triano said.

Weems is one of nine new faces on the roster this season, and part of an entire roster grasping to learn a new defensive system that Triano is trying to instil.

While Wednesday's game was sloppy at times, the Raptors coach was pleased with the improvements he saw over the team's loss a night earlier in London.

``They did what we had asked them to do, plugged the holes a little bit, forced them to shoot 37 per cent,'' Triano said.

The Raptors shot 40 per cent on the night. Philly outrebounded Toronto 46-37.

Bosh and Turkoglu both sat out last week's training camp in Ottawa with injuries. Bosh, who was dressed in sweats on the bench because he didn't bring a suit to the arena, is nursing a strained hamstring but might travel with the team to Minnesota for Friday's game against the Timberwolves. Turkoglu has quadriceps tendinitis, plus the Raptors opted to give him a rest coming off a busy off-season playing for Turkey.

``You see guys on the Raptors resting because of their hamstrings and other injuries. It's good to feel good, even this early in the season,'' Brand said.

The springy rookie DeRozan, who started for the second straight night, showed some positive signs, including a dunk in the second quarter that had the crowd of 11,974 fans cheering.

But Triano pulled him off the court in a hurry in the fourth quarter after the young player fired up a miss on a long jumper less than a minute after subbing back into the game.

``He was just telling me, that when you come off the bench don't take a quick shot because you're cold, wait until you get up and down the court a few times,'' DeRozan said.

DeRozan scored seven points in a first quarter that neither team led by more than four points. The Raptors and Sixers went into the second quarter tied 27-27.

Toronto led by a point late in the second before the Sixers finished the quarter with an 8-0 run to take a 49-42 lead at halftime.

Philly stretched its lead to 12 points midway through the third but the Raptors replied with a 16-6 run to cut the deficit to two. The Sixers led 64-60 with one quarter left.

Notes: The Raptors have two more games in neutral venues, against the Boston Celtics in Hartford, Conn., and versus Minnesota in Sioux Falls, S.D. . .The Raptors face the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Friday then return home to host Washington on Sunday. . .The game marked the third time the Raptors and Sixers have opened the pre-season with back-to-back games against each other.