January 9, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Philadelphia 76ers center/forward Spencer Hawes (00) goes to pass the ball as Toronto Raptors center-forward Amir Johnson (15) defends at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Philadelphia 90-72. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Amir Johnson & DeMar DeRozan lead Raptors past Philadelphia 76ers 90-72 RECAP "Sometimes you've just got to grind it out"

January 9, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) carries the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

In a game some considerable distance from a classic, the Raps were able to wear down a tired Philly squad, holding them to 32 second-half points. Both teams shot the 3-ball like they had never played before, but the Raps had enough half-court offence to win a game in which they never trailed.

The Raps’ already depleted lineup was further shortened by the absence of Terrence Ross, whose twisted ankle kept him in street clothes. Only 8 players hit the floor. Aaron Gray’s brief moment in the sun ended tonight, as Amir Johnson started at Centre. There were many occasions when I thought I was watching a high school game, due to the absence of big men. When Ed Davis is the tallest player on the floor, you can take it as conclusive proof that Coaches Casey & Collins want to play small ball.

Philly didn’t give any clear indication of how they planned to score that way. Many times the Raps forced them into off-balance shots of dubious quality. I keep expecting someone from the 76ers to emerge as a Young Gun of note, but other than a fine shooting display by Jrue Holiday in Q3, no one impressed on this night. What was fun about Holiday’s spree was watching it being matched by Jose Calderon; for about 5 minutes, it seemed like no one scored (or even touched the ball) but those two. Jose finished with 14 points & 11 assists, with nary a single turnover to his dis-credit.

DeMar DeRozan is rapidly emerging as the Raptors’ bail out man. He consistently found open spots to toss up, & in, his excellent jump shot late in the shot clock. DeMar’s 19 points tied for the team lead with Johnson, who was superb. Amir ran the floor well enough to tip in or slam home a number of baskets, & also pulled down 8 defensive rebounds in addition to his 4 on the O-boards. Ed Davis should buy Amir a large dinner; a number of Ed’s baskets were off passes from Amir (5 assists!). Ed totalled 17 points, but should have had a lot more, as he continued his habit of badly missing a number of close-in chances.

The Raps won this game in the trenches, outrebounding Philly 46-39. Landry Fields displayed both sound positioning & jump timing to gather in 11 boards. If only he could rediscover his outside shot. He did chip in 10 points, but is a long way from being The Answer at the 3-spot. The Raps were a sad 1/11 from distance, but Philly only hit 2 themselves.

With another troubled edition of the Charlotte Bobcats visiting on Friday night, the Raps have a great chance to build another winning streak.

Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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