Yup. The Philadelphia 76ers still can’t beat the Toronto Raptors when Kawhi Leonard is healthy. It’s a story we’ve seen twice already this season. Why would it be any different?
Could it be because the Sixers had gone 5-3 and won seven of their last ten games?
Could it be because the Sixers got such an emotional high off defeating the Warriors in Oakland last Thursday?
Whatever the reason, it didn’t happen. The Sixers are now 1-6 versus the top four teams in the East.
There was a simple story for the first half of this game. The Raptors didn’t miss a shot. Let me correct myself. The Raptors didn’t miss too many shots. They shot 61.9% from the field in the first quarter and 44.4% in the second quarter. Serge Ibaka was 8-11 from the field in the first half for 16 points and four rebounds. Kawhi Leonard was only 2-6 from the field, but he went 7-7 from the free throw line for 12 points.
Then there was Kyle Lowry dropping bombs in the first half scoring 17 points by way of four made threes (among other things). Lest we forget the 7:30 stretch of Norman Powell that was frustrating to watch him shoot perfect from the floor and the free throw line.
Joel Embiid had a good first half with 19 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks, but it was negated by the fact that no one else on the roster was doing anything to help him. Jimmy Butler had 12 points, but shot 3-9, and Ben Simmons had nine points, four rebounds, and four assists. He also had four turnovers.
Add all that up, and it put the Sixers in a serious hole early as the lead got as high as 21. At one point in the second quarter, the Raptors scored on eight straight field goals while the Sixers got a point here and two points there at the line. There was no momentum for the Sixers at the half going into the locker room down by 17.
Really? It’s going to be ANOTHER damn game like this to the Raptors?
For another quarter, at least, it seemed that way. The Raptors continued to shoot well in the third quarter going 10/20 in the quarter keeping the lead at double digits, 100-82, after three quarters. Then, the fourth quarter happened.
Joel Embiid single-handedly did everything he could to keep the Sixers in the game in the final 12 minutes. At two different points in the fourth quarter, the Sixers had the lead down to seven. With four minutes to go, the Sixers were still down seven after an Embiid dunk via TJ McConnell assist and then one of the worst calls I had ever seen happened.
Landry Shamet got the ball in the corner, took one dribble to his left and put up a three that went in with a foul for a potential four-point play. The only problem with what I just described is that the referees called an OFFENSIVE foul on Shamet for “kicking his legs” out – which, if you’ve seen Shamet shoot this year, you know that’s how he shoots. It wasn’t an intentional leg kick. That’s just his form.
Seriously, how is THIS an offensive foul:
This might be the worst call I’ve seen this year. Offensive foul on Shamet takes away what would have potentially been a 4 point play. #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/58XqjFJrwm— Sixers Lead (@SixersLead) February 6, 2019
That pretty much iced the rest of the game. There was no air in the building left after that. The Sixers lost to the Raptors for the third time in four tries this season, and I launched a tirade about that call that I was pretty proud of.
Embiid finished with 37 points and 13 rebounds. Simmons added 20 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, but his turnover issues against the Raptors continued as he had six of those. Butler finished with 18 points but shot 5-12 from the field. For Toronto, Kawhi Leonard led with 24 points, and six Raptors total finished in double figures: Siakam (16), Ibaka (20), Lowry (20), Powell (14), and Greg … Monroe (10).
(SMH. Greg Monroe had 10 points and seven rebounds. He was -14 for the game, but I still feel ill.)
Denver comes to down Friday night, and Moses Malone’s number gets retired. Maybe the team will look differently as the trade deadline is rapidly approaching.
Please, Elton. Do something.