Sixers Crumble Late in Wild Loss to Raptors


The Sixers' road woes continue.

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The feisty Raptors used a 10-0 run down the stretch to beat the Sixers, 101-96, at Scotiabank Arena Monday night.

Joel Embiid's struggles continued against Marc Gasol and Ben Simmons had a costly turnover with the Sixers down one with 12 seconds left.

They're now 11-6 overall, 4-6 on the road and their four-game winning streak has been snapped. They return home Wednesday to take on the Kings (7 p.m./NBCSP).

Here are observations from the loss.

Embiid with a goose egg

Gasol continues to be Embiid's boogeyman. Even on possessions where Embiid was able to get good post position on Gasol, the Raptors sent quick and aggressive double teams. Embiid has done well recently in passing out of those. He did a pretty good job in the first half as well, but his teammates simply weren't making Toronto pay.

Credit to Embiid for trying different things, like trying to take Gasol, who is not the fleetest of foot, off the dribble. But give Nick Nurse and the Raptors more credit. They had a good game plan for Embiid and the Sixers didn't have an answer.

For the first time in his NBA career, Embiid was held scoreless in just under 32 minutes. He finished 0 for 11 and 0 for 3 from the line.

Interesting defensive assignments

Brett Brown's decisions on defensive assignments were quite interesting. Ben Simmons was on Pascal Siakam, Al Horford on Gasol and Embiid was on OG Anunoby, which seemed kind of unorthodox.

It was a little puzzling since Anunoby has shot the ball decently from three this season but makes sense when you consider he plays more like a power forward while Siakam and Gasol hang around the perimeter. 

A tough second and final quarter 

The Sixers missed their first four shots but still wound up scoring 34 points in the opening quarter. Then in the second, they simply couldn't make any shots. They were getting great looks but couldn't get them to go. They went without a field goal for over five minutes and shot just 5 of 23 overall in the quarter. Still, they found themselves down just two going to into the half.

A strong third quarter, led by a more aggressive Simmons and a scorching hot Josh Richardson, got the Sixers to within a point heading into the fourth.

It was a wild fourth quarter where both teams stepped up their defense in a big way. Down the stretch, the Sixers just fell apart. You're not going to win many NBA games when you're held to 16 points or less in two separate quarters. 

Richardson stays hot

Richardson picked up right where he left off Saturday night. He made his three threes and continues to show how well he can navigate screens, especially in the pick-and-roll. He mentioned after the Miami game that he believes he can be a creator for the Sixers in that action. It sure looks like he's right. He had 25 points (9 of 19) and six rebounds.

Brown made sure to note that despite Richardson's season-high 32 points the other night, he was just as good on the other end. Fred VanVleet had a strong game (24 points, eight assists), but for the most part Richardson was great on him when he had the chance.

He also had this ridiculous block on Siakam.

Up and down Simmons

There's something about this team and turnovers for Simmons. Kawhi Leonard isn't in Toronto anymore so it was surprising to see Simmons cough it up four times in the first half. He had eight assists, six of which came in the first quarter largely due to the Sixers' horrible shooting quarter in the second.

This football pass to Tobias Harris was a beaut.

To start the second half, Simmons was much more aggressive, taking the ball into the paint with authority and looking to shoot. Unfortunately, a horrendous turnover late sealed the Sixers' fate. Simmons tried to force the ball to Harris on the break when the Sixers had plenty of time to go back in front.

He finished with 10 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds, but seven turnovers.

Siakam got his (25 points), as he has most of the season, but Simmons did a good job limiting his drives and forcing Siakam to settle for outside shots.

Harris staying aggressive

We all know Harris can score the basketball. The issue is that he doesn't always have that "scorer's mentality" Brown talks about. Harris got off to a decent start, hitting 3 of his first 6, but then missed the only two shots he took in the second quarter. 

He was more aggressive in the second half, but in general, he's so much better when he's attacking. As a Sixer, he too often seems to get caught in between on drives to the basket. He's been much better in that department recently. He had a chance and got a decent look that could've put the Sixers back up with 44.5 seconds left, but missed on a floater. He had a decent look to tie it with a three with 10.1 seconds left, too, but missed. For the game, Harris recorded 18 points on 7 of 17.

He also had an outstanding defensive stand against the lightning quick VanVleet which led to a turnover late in the fourth.

No Kawhi, these Raptors can still play

You have to give the Raptors a ton of credit. Without Kyle Lowry or Serge Ibaka, they gave the Sixers all they could handle and outplayed them down the stretch. Siakam is becoming a superstar, VanVleet continues to ascend and Chester native Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gave Toronto strong minutes.

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

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