The Toronto Raptors came to Philadelphia in serious need of a victory. Fortunately the lottery-bound 76ers were the right opponent. The game was surprisingly entertaining for three quarters, then fell off a cliff, resulting in an unwatchable fourth quarter. The Raps would have relinquished their healthy lead had they been playing a team of quality, but were able to limp home against the bad 76ers. The Raps blunted Philly’s comeback attempts all game with timely 3-balls, shooting 14 of 29.
Off the tip, the Raps looked like a team suddenly getting the message about ball distribution, as passes were quick and frequent. A number of open 3-ball looks were the happy result. Kyle Lowry displayed the passing we’ve been looking for from our offense’s quarterback, rolling to a 10 assist night with only 2 turnovers. He made 3 of 5 tries from distance on his way to 13 points. The only reason the Raps didn’t break 60 points before intermission was Rudy Gay’s inability to make shots, including finger rolls he makes in his sleep. He redeemed himself with fine passing (6 assists) and rebounding. DeMar DeRozan was the story of the half, pouring in 22 points, including 3 of 4 from distance. Toronto also received a tonic from Terrence Ross, who chipped in nine, then added eight more for a season-high 17. TR was active on the boards, and made a lovely dish to Tyler Hansbrough for the big forward’s only basket of the night. The Raps’ front court was enduring an off-night from everyone. Jonas Valanciunas scored one basket, and was all but shut down after the break, while Amir Johnson was seldom seen.
Rudy found his shot in Q3, as the Raps poured in 38.
Philly’s offense was led by its Usual Suspects, Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner. I admit to being wrong about Hawes, whom I thought was not much more than Aaron Gray in the early part of his career. However, he has added a serious outside shot to his Hansbrough-like nasty inside game, and become a top journeyman.
The Raps still haven’t played an entire 48 minutes with the skill they are capable of. I hope that last night’s Q4 was more coasting than a precursor of future games. Toronto now leads the turtle derby which is the NBA’s Atlantic Division, and can maintain that position with a win at home on Friday against another team off to a slow start, the Washington Wizards.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor 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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