The Philadelphia 76ers defense held all-star point guard Kyle Lowry in check for most of the night.
The Sixers held Lowry to only 4 points on 2-10 shooting through the first 38 minutes of action on Friday night. Lowry then finished the game scoring an incredible 17 points on 4 field goal attempts in the final 6 minutes of play.
Lowry finished the night with 8 made free throws (8-8) and 3 made three pointers (3-7). All the makes came in the last 6 minutes of play.
"We give him credit. He made some tough shots," Brown said about Lowry after the game. "We ended up double teaming his pick and rolls in the last few minutes to try to get the ball out of his hands."
"Man, he's a tough player. He hit big shots. I guess that's why he's an all-star in this league," Nerlens Noel said.
"I thought I did a pretty good job of containing him throughout the game, and in the 4th quarter he hit some tough shots," Michael Carter-Williams said. "I love playing against him. I love playing against guys like that, it's great to test your skills."
Th Sixers started the game off with an improbable 15-0 run, which included 2 three pointers from Robert Covington, a three by K.J. McDaniels, and 3 Raptors turnovers in the first 4 minutes of action. The Raptors then went on a 22-15 run to close out the first quarter and narrow the gap, then started the second quarter with an 8-0 run to knot the game at 30.
"They called a timeout, and they regrouped the way you expected them to," Brown said. "It really wasn't even an X's and O's game, to me, in the first half at that point. Balls were just taken from us. When we would drive, they were more physical."
After a 10-2 run by the Raptors to close out the first half and gave the visitors a 7 point half-time lead, it seemed like the Raptors might finally take control of the game. But the Sixers defense was stifling in a third quarter that saw the Raptors, with the 4th best offense in the league, shoot only 30.4% from the field.
"I thought we played our hearts out in the second half," Brown said. "I'm so proud of our guys defensive effort in the second half. I thought we put ourselves in a position to win."
The Sixers were led by Michael Carter-Williams, who scored 12 points on 4-8 shooting from the field, while dishing out 9 assists, grabbing 7 rebounds, and adding in 4 steals. His defense, even late in the 4th quarter when Lowry was making tough shots, was superb.
"I thought Michael Carter-Williams was a stud tonight," Brown said about his point guard. "As a group we've had so many discussions on passing, on playing together, on making extra passes, and I saw so many signs of tremendous improvement tonight.
"I think [there were] some real discussions within the past few days, and I give them credit for responding," Brown said about the Sixers improved ball movement.
Michael Carter-Williams had a game-high 103 touches on the night, making passes in over 83% of them. Carter-Williams' 17.2% usage rate was the lowest he's had in a game since the 12.0% he had on December 30th and his 2nd lowest rate of the season. Carter-Williams was a +8 last night, only the 3rd time he's had a positive +/- in his last 15 games.
"I think it was a real focal point for our team that we needed to move the ball more," Michael Carter-Williams said. "That's something I tried to come out and do and set the tone by moving the ball."
"Mike, being our leader, he did a great job. The whole team did a great job," Noel said after the game when asked about the ball movement. "It wasn't stagnant at all, guys were able to knock down shots early, and I think we had a lot of fun tonight."
The Sixers had 6 players in double figures in scoring, a rarity for a team that struggles to score this much. Carter-Williams (12 points) was joined by Robert Covington (18 points, 5-15 shooting, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks), Nerlens Noel (12 points, 14 rebounds, 2 steals), K.J.McDaniels (14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists), Henry Sims (11 points off the bench), and Luc Mbah a Moute (10 points).
The Sixers got the ball with 25 seconds left down by 1, with Michael Carter-Williams running the same play that won the game against Brooklyn earlier this month. When he got inside and tried to wrap a pass to Nerlens Noel, Jonas Valanciunas was there to come up with the steal. After Valanciuns made a pair of free throws Henry Sims tried a three pointer off of a broken inbounds play to tie the game, but was way off.
"They collapsed on me pretty hard, and I didn't know whether I should just try to shoot it or pass it," Carter-Williams said. "I was indecisive, and they made a good play."
Still, for a team that has made a season out of finding positives to take from losses, it's not too hard to find quite a few positives in last night's loss, even if the final outcome was disappointing.