Another disastrous fourth quarter, another dispiriting defeat. The Raps, who had led most of the game, struggled on offense & were punished by several unlikely 3-balls from one of Philly’s Young guns, Nick (the other, Thaddeus, poured in 18 points). The 76ers’ small lineup came up big for the home side, outscoring the Raps by 15 in the decisive final frame.
An audible sigh of relief was heard from Toronto fans everywhere, as Kyle Lowry dressed for the first time in several weeks. Despite Kyle’s return, Jose Calderon started, which was a sensible decision by Coach Casey. The Raps were in gear early, jumping out to a 14-4 before 76ers Coach Collins called a timeout.
The Raps’ first made 3 was by Jose just before halftime, prior to that, 7 shots had gone astray, preventing the creation of a healthy lead. DeMar DeRozan was not able to drive to the hoop, and his jumper wasn’t falling against some tough Philly D. He showed his new-found grit in the second half, & led the Raps with 24.
Q3 featured some fine play by the Raps. Lowry’s determined drives paid off several times, including a sweet switch to the left hand. On 2 drive-&-kick plays, Bargnani was able to drill open 3s, on his way to 22 points. Toronto’s ball movement was very strong, & there were few silly or desperate end-of-clock shots. Jonas Valanciunas played what might have been his best Q in the pros, as his strong rebounding & solid positioning under both hoops paid off in points & changed Philly shots. He was one of 2 Raps recording a double-double (11 point & 11 boards), the other being the reliable Jose, with 13 points & 12 assists. Speaking of helpers, Lowry’s return helped push the Raps to 28 assists on 37 field goals.
Besides Nick Young’s 23 off the bench, Jrue Holiday was a riddle the Raps couldn’t solve, as he had 19 points & 12 assists.
Oddly enough, the game’s first 3 quarters all ended 29-22, with the Raps winning 1 & 3, thereby carrying a 7 point lead into what should have been, but wasn’t, a happy final Q. The 76ers found themselves in foul trouble with 8:13 to play, but the Raps didn’t seem to want the help, as they drew hardly any fouls for the rest of the game. At least few were called; there appeared to be considerable contact by Philly which went unpunished. What fouls they did commit were punted – Kyle Lowry showed the rust, going 3/8 from the line, while Bargnani was 2/5. When Philly took the lead with under 2 minutes to play, & Lowry missed both free throws coming back, the game was as good as over. Jason Richardson’s 3-ball pounded the coffin nails.
The Raps fly to Charlotte for a tussle against the suddenly respectable Bobcats Wednesday night.