Raptors can’t sustain a solid start to lose third in a row to Philly

Get the latest from Frank Zicarelli straight to your inbox

Article content

In what is beginning to sound like a broken record at a time when Toronto’s actual won/loss record continues to drop, the Raptors came up short.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Against Philly big man Joel Embiid, the Raptors did a decent job, at least based on how dominant Embiid has been playing.

Article content

He still managed to post a 30 and 10 game — points and rebounding, respectively.

He got help on this night as the host Sixers simply outlasted and out-talented the Raptors, 121-111.

Scottie Barnes was surprisingly silent Friday night, which began with the Raptors making some long-awaited noise to begin the evening.

On most nights, Embiid’s sidekick is Tyrese Maxie.

On this night, it was veteran Tobias Harris who stepped up.

When the Sixers were poised to extend a double-digit lead in the third quarter, the Raptors went with a zone defence that helped swing the game’s momentum.

After three periods, Philly was leading 93-89.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Maxie emerged as the game’s best player in the fourth quarter, which began with Embiid on the bench.

In the absence of their star player, the Sixers managed to stretch their lead to double figures.

When Embiid re-entered, Philly was leading 113-100 with 4:50 remaining.

Philly’s Big 3 of Embiid, Maxie and Harris took turns taking over the game.

Once again, and stop if you’ve heard this one before, the Raptors were good, but just not good enough.

When multiple players needed to step up, so few did.

Embiid, Harris and Maxie each reached the 30-point mark.

The Raptors, simply put, are nowhere near the class of this Sixers team, which has now won all three meetings this season.

Philly outscored the Raptors by 18 points from distance, a disparity that has yet to be addressed and likely won’t be addressed until some legitimate shooters are acquired.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Granted, Gary Trent Jr. did make five three-pointers, but the rest of the team made only three combined.

Toronto held Embiid to 11 first-half points.

He finished the night one rebound and one assist short of a triple-double.

Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with a 31-point night.

Barnes scored 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting.


Toronto’s opening-quarter woes have been well documented.

The team’s starting lineup has been a source of consternation among fans clamoring for a change.

The same starting five was back in the spotlight at Wells Fargo Center.

This time, the starters didn’t fall behind.

In fact, the Raptors jumped out to their best start in weeks.

Siakam led the way and at one point had as many points as the Sixers team.

Advertisement 5

Article content

When the visitors led by 15 with just under five minutes remaining, fans booed the Sixers.

Philly did get a scare when Embiid was briefly hurt after he tried to defend Jakob Poeltl on a reverse layup.

Embiid’s durability has been an issue in the past, but he has avoided the injury bug this season.

Engaged defensively, efficient on offence, the Raptors were the better team in the game’s opening 12 minutes and were well deserving of their 37-28 advantage.

Siakam never left the floor in netting 14 points on seven field goals.

He was in attack mode from the jump as Siakam went to the line six times.

Poeltl added 10 points.

The Raptors won the opening quarter for the first time since Nov. 29 when Phoenix was in Toronto.

Recommended from Editorial

Advertisement 6

Article content


While head coach Darko Rajakovic stuck with his starting unit, he did make a subtle change to his rotation.

When the second quarter began, Rajakovic had veteran stretch small forward Otto Porter Jr. on the floor.

The only two starters in the game were Barnes and O.G. Anunoby on a unit that also consisted of Trent Jr. and Precious Achiuwa.

Toronto missed its first five shots to begin the quarter, which saw the Sixers open the period on a 7-0 run.

Porter Jr.’s three-point make ended Philly’s run and the Raptors’ drought.

His most recent game action was back on Dec. 8 when the Raptors were in Charlotte when Porter Jr. played five minutes and 43 seconds in a Toronto loss.


We apologize, but this video has failed to load.


Jamal Murray received a warm reception when the Kitchener native came to town for the first time as an NBA champion during Denver’s visit Wednesday night.

Advertisement 7

Article content

Kelly Olynyk, a staunch and loyal member of Canada’s national team, makes his return Saturday night after he helped the program qualify for this summer’s Paris Olympics when the Utah Jazz pay a visit to Scotiabank Arena.

His dad coached at U of T, while Olynyk’s mom worked for the Raptors in their early years of the franchise as part of the team’s stats crew and game operations.

The floor spacing Olynyk scored 27 points, a season high, in Utah’s most recent game played Thursday when it extended Detroit’s losing streak.

The Jazz played without four of its top seven scorers — Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, Keyonte George and Talen Horton-Tucker.

Utah (11-18) also played on the back end of a back-to-back following a loss in Cleveland.

The team’s win in Motown was only its third road victory this season.

Most of the talk surrounding the Jazz involves trade speculation.

Club CEO Danny Ainge has never been reluctant to make moves when moves are required.

Names being bandied about in potential trades feature the likes of Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton.

By the way, it was Ainge who engineered a draft-day trade in 2013 with Dallas to land Olynyk in Boston and then re-acquired the Toronto native this off-season in a deal with Detroit.


Article content