January 7, 2012
Raptors easy pickings
By Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency
Toronto’s offence was rather, well, offensive in Philadelphia on Saturday night.
The result was an easy Sixers win — 97-62 — and a 3-5 record for the slipping Raptors.
Andrea Bargnani’s fine season continued — he scored 21 points and added a season-high 11 rebounds in his best outing of the year, but nobody helped him out much on the attack
Philadelphia used a 32-11 third quarter run to take complete control of a game the Raptors had stayed in, despite failing to shoot or defend particularly well through two.
Only Bargnani and Jose Calderon scored for Toronto in the quarter after an early Amir Johnson bucket.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia got whatever it wanted inside and drew a ton of fouls while the Raptors showed little interest in venturing inside and offered zero resistance.
Philadelphia had five players in double figures, led by Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday’s 14 apiece.
The teams came in ranked 1-2 in opponent’s field goal percentage and it showed in an ugly first half. Neither side could find the mark offensively, though Philadelphia took a 41-34 lead into the break largely because of a nine made free throws to three advantage.
The visitors shot a sloppy 34.1% for the half and turned the ball over 10 times. It would have been worse had Philadelphia managed to do better than 1-for-7 shooting on fast break attempts.
The Raptors came out of the break strong, cutting the Sixers lead to three, but like Rocky, Philly took a few punches before responding with a flurry, resulting in a decisive victory.
The team is in desperate need of some offence – it needs Bargnani, Calderon and DeMar DeRozan, who had another tough night – to star, or else there simply won’t be enough made buckets to pull off many victories this season.
These Raptors don’t shoot very well so they need to make up for that inside on many nights. Saturday wasn’t one of those. Philadelphia only dished out a ridiculous five fouls through three quarters, indicating the Raptors were okay with settling.
With a back-to-back-to-back set looming starting Monday, that will need to change.
You have to love Philly. Iguodala was booed by his hometown fans like Santa Claus after airballing the first shot of the game. The fans also came up with “Chris Bosh hates you,” as a way of mocking the visitors. Early in the second quarter Jamaal Magloire stood up, looked at the loudest offenders and calmly said: “Shut up!” He smiled as they responded by directing abuse his way … The Sixers have very active hands on defence. On one first quarter sequence both Iguodala and Holiday knocked balls out of the hands of Raptors getting ready to shoot … Calderon says he is healthier than he has been in a long time and it showed in the first quarter when he skied for an offensive rebound … One of the first things young basketball players are taught is to not throw cross court passes. Yet, the Raptors tossed a few of the mistakes in the first half. Philadelphia responded with buckets on most of them.
Injured forward Linas Kleiza’s season debut appears to be imminent. Kleiza was inactive on Saturday, but told the Sun prior to the game that he will meet with his doctors in Colorado on Monday. If they sign off and give him a clean bill of health, Kleiza, who has been practicing with the Raptors for a while now, could return on Tuesday in Washington or on Wednesday at home against Sacramento. The club could use his scoring touch … Casey said due to the brutal seven games in nine night stretch the Raptors currently are facing, he has made some scheduling changes. Casey is allowing the team to sleep in more – they met on Saturday at 2 p.m. rather than the customary Noon meal. Casey also is losing his voice due to all the teaching he is doing – often loudly – in games and in practices.
Centre Spencer Hawes can score in a variety of ways, but Ed Davis thinks that’s about where comparisons with Bargnani end. “Drea is one of the toughest bigs to guard in the league hands down,” Davis said. “(Hawes) is nowhere near as talented as Andrea is. He can shoot, but there’s a lot of bigs in the NBA that can shoot but Drea has more in his package. But (Hawe’s) playing well, I think he’s top five in rebounding (11.8 per game heading in to Saturday’s contest) … Sixers head coach Doug Collins is high on the Raptors. Before the game he pointed out DeRozan torched Philly last season, getting to the line 24 times and added that with Bargnani, DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas plus other pieces, the Raptors are a young team on the rise. “I think the future is very bright in Toronto, they’re building a nice team,” Collins said. Collins was particularly complimentary of his praise of the new-look Bargnani. “Bargnani is one of the guys that has really bought in,” Collins said. “Last year, he was a guy you could run pick and roll against, but that’s not the case this year, he’s done a really good job.”