There are plenty of excuses one can use to explain away this Philadelphia 76ers' "performance" tonight. No Joel Embiid. Road game on the wrong end of a back-to-back. The Raptors are a quality basketball team. Third game in fourth nights.
All of those things listed above are true. But they really don't explain how badly the Sixers got run out of the Air Canada Centre. The scoreboard said 128-94 at the end of the game, but the 48 minutes of basketball that occurred was a lot uglier than the final score indicated.
Listen... it's time to talk about Markelle Fultz. His first stint in tonight's game was actually good, all things considered (Brett Brown allowed him to initiate the offense, even with Ben Simmons on the floor). Conversely, his second burst of action was accented by four of the worst free-throw attempts that you've ever seen in your life. The video of one of them is below - if there are any children in the room, we ask that you politely tell them to look away.
Next on the tee ... from Upper Marlboro, MD ... Markelle Fultz! FOREEEE pic.twitter.com/47PRxPqtsS— Kristaps Wobzingis (@World_Wide_Wob) October 22, 2017
The spin move is still restaurant quality, but the hesi pull-up jimbo is completely non-existent. Fultz is hesitant to even SHOOT jump shots - not something you want out of your No. 1 pick combo guard.
The rest of the team was willing to shoot jumpers, but they simply weren't falling tonight. The Sixers shot 39.5 percent from the field against the Raptors, and ended the evening just 8-for-24 from beyond the arc.
Tonight's game was a mess off of the rip. The first quarter alone was almost "turn the channel to the Penn State-Michigan game" ugly. The Raptors closed out the period on a 21-4 run to take a 36-19 lead, thanks in large part to DeMar DeRozan's 15 points.
The Sixers began the second quarter on a 6-0 run, and pretty much played Toronto to a draw for the rest of stanza. But an ill-advised foul by Dario Saric late in the period left Brown with four players in foul trouble heading into the second half.
A 40-22 third quarter - punctuated by multiple Serge Ibaka three-pointers - drove many Sixers' fans to turn off their television sets, and we can't say that we blame you. Robert Covington picked up foul No. 4 midway through the period, and that allowed DeRozan to continue his multi-faceted assault. DeRozan led the Raptors with 30 points, and could have easily had 40 if the game and/or Dwane Casey had allowed it.
Burn the tape of this game. If it's on your DVR, erase it. J.J. Redick doesn't drive down from Dumbo for this. Hopefully, we'll get some answers to some of the Sixers' more pressing issues before they face the Detroit Pistons on Monday.
- Ben Simmons ended the night with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and had a decent shot at a triple-double if Brown didn't sub him out with nearly five minutes left. Saturday was the third time in as many games where Simmons racked up 10/10/5.
- Simmons and Fultz both went 4-for-8 from the line. The rest of their teammates finished 14-for-20 from the charity stripe.
- We got our first taste (apologies to Paul Pierce) of Jahlil Okafor tonight, and he looked... solid. After picking up three quick fouls in the first half, he had a decent - if unspectacular - run against the Raptors (10 points, nine rebounds, two blocks).
- The Raptors ran Redick off the three-point line virtually all night, and the 12-year veteran had to work for every one of his shots. Redick didn't make a single three-pointer on Saturday, and scored just eight points on 2-for-8 shooting.
- It was an off-night for Robert Covington due to foul trouble: He logged just 14:31 against Toronto and had just five points and three rebounds.
- How can you tell most of the game was garbage time? Justin Anderson took 12 shots, second-most on the team. He actually made two of the team's eight three-pointers, so there's that.