Raptors fall to Philadelphia 76ers as losing streak reaches 13 games

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All things considered, the Raptors did as well as they could, putting forth an effort and some degree of efficiency required to win at the NBA level.

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Considering they were completely annihilated and embarrassed Wednesday night when the New York Knicks came to town, the least the Raptors could do on Easter Sunday was show resiliency.

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The night began like so many others during this wretched stretch when head coach Darko Rajakovic was forced to call a timeout with the game not even three minutes old and his team trailing 10-2. Kelly Olynyk would get into early foul trouble, forcing Rajakovic to turn to the wise veteran in Garrett Temple, who once again showed the way by diving for loose balls, getting back in transition and summoning all he had.

When a team’s hands are tied, as it is with this short-handed roster, losing streaks are allowed to get extended. No longer is there any question if the Raptors will lose, but how their latest defeat will play out.

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They began March with a loss to Golden State and they’ll end the month following their 135-120 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, who were minus their two best players, including the NBA’s reigning MVP.

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The Raptors continue to play minus their four best as they reached the dreaded baker’s dozen in losing their 13th game in a row.

Late in the third quarter, the Raptors cut into Philly’s lead to trail by single digits, an occasion for the restless crowd to finally show its appreciation for the home side.

There was some long-awaited life to the evening as the Raptors played well. The more uptempo they played, the more Toronto was better able to compete and at least pose some kind of threat.

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The five-man unit of Gradey Dick, Jalen McDaniels, Kobi Simmons, Mo Gueye and Jordan Nwora played in unison and played well.

After three quarters, the Sixers led 101-93 despite the Raptors outscoring Philly 38-30 in one of Toronto’s finest quarters in recent memory.

The same five-man group started the fourth and continued to challenge the Sixers. Naturally, inevitability, it would be short-lived as Philly extended its lead to 15 points.

To their credit, the Raptors didn’t go quietly into the night.

Philly was able to fend off a pesky Raptors team because of its three-point shooting. On the night, the Sixers outscored the Raptors 72-33 from beyond the arc.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Kyle Lowry looks for a pass.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Kyle Lowry (7) looks for an opportunity during second half NBA basketball action against the Toronto Raptors, in Toronto, Sunday, March 31, 2024. Photo by Frank Gunn /THE CANADIAN PRESS


With Tyrese Maxie (hip) out, Kyle Lowry started as the former Raptors point guard made his return to the city for the first time as a member of the Sixers.

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He was cheered by fans during the pre-game player introduction, reciprocating the adulation by holding his hands up in the shape of a heart.

Four minutes into the game, Lowry took a charge on a diving Dick when the rookie should have pulled up.

Lowry would make two three-pointers in the opening quarter, including a pull-up three in transition that was vintage Lowry from his peak days in Toronto.

“He’s done a lot of the stuff that he’s always done,’’ said Sixers head coach Nick Nurse of Lowry. “He’s a good organizer.

“I think he’s really helped our defence get better. He certainly understands a lot of the things we want to do as a coaching staff and he makes sure they get done out there”

Nurse was warmly acknowledged by the fans and was greeted by several members of the Raptors support staff when Nurse accompanied his staff to Philly’s bench prior to tipoff.

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Lowry’s 10 assists led the Sixers, while Olynyk dished a game-high 11.


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He took part in the pre-game routine, got off some shots, broke a sweat and looked very comfortable in a familiar environment.

For RJ Barrett, his activity on the court did not transfer into the game as Barrett wasn’t available as his hometown team tried to put the breaks on an extended losing streak.

As he continues to ramp up his conditioning after being out for personal reasons, it seems only a matter of time before Barrett is able to dress and help lead a depleted Raptors side in desperate need of talent.

Acquired in a trade with the New York Knicks, Barrett averaged a career-high 20.8 points in the 27 games he appeared with the Raptors.

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Also unavailable were Ochai Agbaji, Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley, Jakob Poeltl, Chris Boucher, D.J. Carton and Jontay Porter as Toronto played the Sixers with 10 available players.


Some of the night’s best entertainment came courtesy of Toronto’s own Maestro Fresh Wes, who performed at halftime on his 56th birthday.

Known as the “Godfather of Canadian Hip-hop,” the magnificent Maestro was in prime form during a rousing set that brought life to an otherwise lifeless and sparse crowd.

While he didn’t perform, Keith Pelley made the rounds as he begins his tenure as MLSE president, a position the Toronto native will officially take on Tuesday.

In a way, Pelley was performing some unofficial duties Sunday before taking over the reins of a sporting conglomerate in need of an infusion of energy and creativity.

Since winning the NBA championship in 2019, the Raptors have played host to a combined three playoff games, the most recent during Barnes’ rookie season two years ago when the Sixers advanced to the second round following a blowout win in Game 6.

Toronto lost to visiting Chicago in last spring’s play-in game.


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