Game Rap: Raptors 89, 76ers 94
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
IT WAS OVER WHEN
Joel Embiid hit a pair of free throws with 20.7 seconds remaining to put the 76ers ahead by six. After struggling from the floor throughout the game, Toronto was unable to turn the game around in the fourth quarter and fell to the Sixers 89-94. The loss snapped a 14-game winning streak against Philadelphia.
SULLINGER MAKES SEASON DEBUT
Jared Sullinger made his long-awaited Raptors debut on Wednesday. After signing with Toronto in the offseason, Sullinger underwent foot surgery shortly before the regular season tipped off and has been diligently working his way back ever since. His minutes were limited in his debut, but he showed flashes of the defensive energy and basketball IQ that Dwane Casey has raved so much about in his absence. Sullinger played 14 minutes on Wednesday, finishing with eight points and three rebounds on 4-for-10 field goals.
CARROLL LEAVES GAME EARLY
DeMarre Carroll left the game with 6:31 remaining in the third quarter after taking an accidental knee to the head from teammate Pascal Siakam as he fell in the paint. After a few minutes of Carroll remaining down on the floor, Toronto’s training staff helped him walk gingerly to the locker room for further testing. The team announced that Carroll had a sore neck and would not return to the game.
SLOW TO WARM UP
Toronto looked every bit the team that was on a back-to-back to start the game in Philadelphia. The Raptors shot just 36 percent in the opening quarter compared to Philadelphia’s 45 percent shooting as the 76ers led by as many as 10 points before Toronto narrowed the gap to four after the opening 12 minutes. Sullinger provided a big boost for the Raptors in the opening quarter, coming into the game and quickly scoring six points while also grabbing three rebounds in five minutes as he helped Toronto find much-needed energy. The second quarter was more of the same for Toronto as the Raptors continued to struggle offensively, making just 38 percent of their field goals. Luckily, the 76ers also went cold from the floor, dropping to 29 percent shooting in the quarter. An eight-point effort from Kyle Lowry helped the Raptors go into the halftime break trailing by just two.
HOLDING STEADY IN THE THIRD
Although the shooting improved in the third quarter, it was much of the same for Toronto as the Raptors stayed close, but couldn’t completely close the gap. Toronto gave up a 10-point third quarter to Ersan Ilyasova as Philadelphia managed to hang on to its lead to go into the fourth ahead by three. The 76ers shot 60 percent in the quarter compared to Toronto’s 44 percent.
BATTLE OF A FOURTH
Toronto has become very good at flipping the switch in the fourth quarter in close games lately. Finding a way to win has become a skill for the Raptors, but Dwane Casey hasn’t wanted to make a habit of needing to huge fourth-quarter effort to secure a victory. Wednesday’s contest against the 76ers was a good example why as Toronto found a fourth quarter it couldn’t flip the switch in. Already playing undermanned with Patrick Patterson (sore knee) and Lucas Nogueira (concussion protocol) sitting out, the Raptors lost DeMarre Carroll midway through the third quarter and also had to deal with Jared Sullinger being on a minute restriction. Still, Toronto had a chance, taking a one-point lead with 1:53 remaining on a DeMar DeRozan jumper. DeRozan had a 14-point fourth as he tried to will the Raptors to a win, but Toronto couldn’t overcome Philadelphia’s stifling defence around the basket nor get stops when needed most down the stretch and the Sixers closed out the win at the free throw line.
RAPTORS PLAYERS OF THE GAME
DeMar DeRozan led Toronto in scoring with a team-high 25 points. He shot 11-for-21 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the free throw line while adding three rebounds, a team-high six assists and a steal in 38 minutes of action. Kyle Lowry was right behind him with 24 points in 40 minutes. He added four rebounds, four assists, five steals and a blocked shot before fouling out with 20 seconds remaining.
UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jonas Valanciunas had another huge effort on the glass, in a game where Toronto certainly needed it. The Raptors big man played 30 minutes, scoring 10 points to go with a game-high 16 rebounds. Valanciunas shot 5-for-11 from the floor, with six of his rebounds coming on the offensive glass.
THAT'S A RAP…
“We missed so many shots. We missed tons of shots. It happens. We lost the game.”
- Kyle Lowry summing up a rough offensive night for the Raptors
BY THE #’S
40…Percent shooting from the Raptors, 44 percent shooting from the 76ers.
26…Points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal, two blocked shots for Joel Embiid. Philadelphia was a +20 when Embiid was on the floor.
48…Rebounds for Philadelphia, compared to 43 for Toronto. The Raptors did hold a 12-6 edge on the offensive glass.
25…Just 25 percent shooting from beyond the arc for the Raptors (6-for-24).
THEY SAID IT…
“We missed a lot of open shots. They’re a good team, they’ve been playing well, no disrespect to them, but we missed a lot of open shots. T-Ross had three wide-open threes that we missed. Fatigue doesn’t make any difference. Those are shots we normally make. We knew we were going to have our hands full tonight. We knew it was going to be a grind it out game.”
- Dwane Casey on his team struggling offensively throughout the game
“I felt pretty good. I’ve still got a lot of work to do, but overall it felt great.”
- Jared Sullinger on how he felt in his first game back
“It was exciting. It was good to get him out there. We’ve got to get him back in some game-playing shape. I’m sure it’s going to continue to get better and we’ll continue to get him back and [find some] rhythm.”
- Kyle Lowry on getting to have Jared Sullinger back on the floor
The Raptors will close out their three-game road trip in Charlotte against the Hornets on Friday at 7 P.M. ET.