It was an ugly night of basketball in Toronto. Playing without starters Kyle Lowry (left ankle) and Landry Fields (right hand), an undermanned Toronto Raptors team dropped a disappointing 93-83 decision to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. After coming out strong and finally seeming to curb their disastrous first quarters, the Raptors led 26-20 after the opening 12 minutes. Shortly after, things fell apart.
The Raptors went with an all-reserve lineup to start the second quarter and the Sixers made them pay, quickly evened the score thanks to a scoring flurry from Nick Young (finished the game with 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting). Toronto brought some of their starters back into the game with the scored knotted at 29, but the momentum and energy the team had to start the game was gone. By halftime, the Sixers led by 19 points. That’s what happens when you get outscored 32-7 and make just two of 20 field goal attempts.
The Raptors rebounded in the third to outscore Philadelphia 29-17 thanks to strong quarters from Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas, but the damage was already done. Add in an injury to Alan Anderson to close out the third quarter and the Raptors had another loss to their record, perhaps their most frustrating of the season.
It’s still early — just six games into the season — but the mood in the locker room was a sombre one. Trying to turn the corner and build upon the defensive identity they had established a year earlier, the Raptors looked more lost than certain on Saturday night.
* The game only lasted 48 minutes. Yep, this one is a little bit of a cop out, but that’s the kind of night it was. Had planned on going with this being the last time the team would wear those awful camouflage uniforms, but unfortunately they will be in them again on a Saturday game in late January.
* Andrea Bargnani is finding his offensive rhythm. Not getting too crazy and there’s still a lot he could improve on (rebounding, boxing out his man to name a couple of things), but Bargnani was able to put points on the board against the Sixers. He finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-for-19 field goals while also connecting on three of his six three-point attempts.
* Terrence Ross is getting more comfortable on the floor. If there is one benefit that comes from ugly losses (and having guys down due to injury), it’s that it forces a coach to go deep into their rotation and leave rookies on the floor, often for longer than they are comfortable with. Against the Sixers, Ross logged over 12 minutes of action and continued to shoot his way into a rhythm and gain a familiarity with the speed of an NBA game. Ross finished with six points on 2-for-5 shooting, both of his makes coming from beyond the arc.
* The small-forward position gets weaker. With Landry Fields already out because of a right hand issue, Alan Anderson started in his place until he went down in a heap at the end of the third quarter on a drive to the basket. Anderson was helped off of the court by teammates and didn’t put any pressure on his foot. The initial diagnosis given by the team is a sprained right foot. Anderson will undergo more testing and his status will be updated during Sunday’s practice.
* Slow starts, ugly quarters and not playing 48 minutes of basketball. It’s great that the team came out strong and held a lead after the opening quarter. It’s not great that they seemed to simply shift their awful first quarters into an awful second quarter against the Sixers. Shooting 2-for-20 from the floor over a 12 minute span is every bit as ugly as it sounds. The Raptors shot just 38 per cent for the game, including 10 per cent in that second quarter.
* Rebounding. While Jonas Valanciunas finished with eight points and eight rebounds, the team as a whole was outrebounded by Philadelphia 46-35. DeMar DeRozan was second on the team with six boards while Bargnani grabbed five boards in nearly 41 minutes of action. Evan Turner led the Sixers on the glass with a game-high 12 rebounds in his 37 minutes.
* It was obvious that this one hurt. After a frustrating night where he played over 44 minutes and shot just 6-for-17 from the floor, DeRozan walked off the floor and peeled his jersey off before he made it halfway through the tunnel to the locker room. The scene in the locker room was the same thing. Guys left the arena quickly, voices were quiet, answers serious and short.
* Dwane Casey was asked repeatedly about his substitution patterns in the game, especially the decision to run with five reserves for a chunk of the second quarter. With Jose Calderon and Alan Anderson already in the starting lineup for the injury Lowry and Fields, this means going deep into the rotation. Casey admitted the team was looking for the right combination of guys to give them a boost. “We are searching,” he said. “We have not put together a true 48 minutes. Give me 46 minutes and I will be happy with that. I see light at the end of the tunnel. Bringing Kyle back makes a big difference.”
* Bargnani was asked about the second quarter where everything fell apart. His description summed up the game perfectly: “The second quarter was like the picture of the game.” It was rarely will you win games where you’re outscored 32-7 in a 12- minute span.