The Toronto Raptors needed a win in the worst way, and they got one. Despite repeatedly allowing the Philadelphia 76ers to get back in a game when they should have been buried, the Raps managed to keep Philly at bay. The Raps came out like a house on fire, piling up 36 first-quarter points, 12 by the suddenly confident Terrence Ross. It was a pleasure seeing him receive alley-oop passes from DeMar DeRozan, who didn’t ignore his scoring responsibilities. DD is highly efficient on offense, and on this night needed only 19 shots to score 27 points. Nine trips to the free throw line didn’t hurt.
The second quarter saw the Raps offense stagnate, and they needed 4+ minutes to score a basket. Philly wiped out the Raps’ healthy margin, but in an odd pattern repeated all game, tied without ever leading. We had our first look at the New Kids On The Block (minus Chuck Hayes), and they didn’t look out of place. In particular, those who believe Greivis Vasquez can replace Kyle Lowry as our starting point guard weren’t disappointed. He scored 12 points, including 2 of 3 from distance, and dished out 2 assists. However, recording a minus-19 for the game is sobering. Kyle struggled with his shot all night, but contributed with some dandy passes leading to 11 assists against 1 turnover. The ever-savvy Amir Johnson benefited from Kyle’s dishes, needing only 11 shots to score 19 points.
For the 76ers, rookie Tony Wroten discovered his touch from 3-point land, burying 5 of 8. He and the sidelined Michael Carter-Williams give Philly fans hope. Spencer Hawes did not go off from outside, fortunately, and was outrebounded by Jonas Valanciunas, who was on his way to a double-double. Hawes did block JV 3 times, and added one other.
The second half was a saw-off, with both teams scoring 52 points. The win was comfortably in hand until late in Q4 when the Raps went frosty again, not scoring for 3+ minutes while Philly clawed back within a basket. TRoss buried a 3, his last of 24 points, and Lowry’s pair of free throws cemented the decision.
Coach Dwane Casey was clearly bent on giving the newest Raps a serious look, meaning that Novak, Fields, Buycks and Stone never got on the floor. The future of these worthies (along with Austin Daye,who didn’t dress), is murky.
The Raps grabbed an awkward victory in a state of near-turmoil. The Lowry trade rumours continue to swirl, and integrating four new players while replacing Rudy Gay with TRoss is a formidable task. There was even a picket line at the Air Canada Centre, as a number of Teamster-union workers walked off the job. Flying to Chicago for a game tonight against the Bulls might be a positive. We’ll take a look at that match later today.
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.
Remember, for the best deals on Toronto Raptors tickets for any game on the 2013-14 NBA schedule, visit our friends at TiqIQ.com.