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Raptors 125, Sixers 114: A Moral Victory

Tonight's loss cemented, at worst, the No. 5 pick in the draft. But in a vacuum, it was a pretty solid performance

These guys are happy. I'm happy too.
These guys are happy. I'm happy too.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe the Sixers aren't the worst team in the history of the NBA. Not only have they gone 2-4 since their regrettable record-tying losing streak, they've looked pretty good in a couple losses, including tonight's defeat to Toronto.

It wasn't all great--Thaddeus Young missed his first six shots and finished the night 7-for-16 from the floor for 16 points with only two rebounds, one assist and one steal. Jarvis Varnado got posterized twice by two different white guys, and Jonas Valanciunas pretty well ran riot, taking a 26-point, 12-rebound upper decker on Varnado, Young and Henry Sims. James Anderson hit three three-pointers early and spent the rest of the game taking heat check shots, only to find that his heat was not there. Kyle Lowry dropped 29 on the Sixers to lead all scorers.

But the Sixers resembled a credible NBA team, playing on the road against a very good opponent. Brett Brown ran a relatively short bench, playing only nine players, seven of whom scored in double figures. The Sixers, Young notwithstanding, shot pretty well, which I don't think they've done since the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals, and played an uncharacteristically clean game, creating open shots and drives with good ball movement, and only turned the ball over eight times, which was an average night for MCW during the losing streak.

Speaking of Michael Carter-Williams, he was all over the place, bouncing off Raptors like someone who isn't terrifyingly skinny, finishing with 19 points on 12 shots to go with eight assists and nine rebounds. Sims dropped 22 points--two off his career high, set earlier this week against Boston--and eight rebounds.

The Sixers shot 51.8 percent from the field, their fifth-best mark this season. And even though their last lead was 11-10, less than five minutes into the first quarter, they stayed with Toronto throughout, never letting the game get out of hand and cutting it to one in the third quarter and as little as six points with 2:44 to go in the game.

The point is, the Sixers went on the road against the East's presumptive No. 3 seed and looked like they belonged. Even after trading away Turner and Hawes, the parade of 40-point blowouts has at least slowed down and a new era is dawning...

(American flag curtain drops at the rear of the stage, orchestra begins to play "Battle Hymn of the Republic")

Sure, the Sixers lost, but they looked like an NBA team, which, by our extraordinarily low standards, means something. Put another way, with nothing to play for, late in the season, the Sixers were good enough that I wrote a semi-serious recap instead of some bullshit that I threw together because I literally fell asleep during the game. This is what basketball can be, if we're patient--it can be entertaining and tense, and make us happy in the end! God bless the Sixers, and God bless America!

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