When was the last time the home team won by 35 points and was met with a small smattering of boos. If you’re the Philadelphia 76’ers on free Big Mac night there’s a strong possibility. The team failed to scored 100 points which would’ve given the 14,522 in attendance a free Big Mac as part of a McDonald’s promotion. As I scanned the crowd last night there were some that should be thanking the 76’ers instead.
The Sixers pulled themselves together after a sloppy first half to feast on the visiting Toronto Raptors 97-62.
Coming off of an emotional win Friday night, the Sixers were right back at it again last night with the Toronto Raptors – fresh off a loss to the New Jersey Nets the previous night. The ill effects for both teams was evidenced early on as the Sixers tried to knock the visitors out early with seven three-point attempts in the first quarter. Jodie Meeks (7 points) who was 4 of 5 from beyond Friday night was 0-3 in the opening stanza (1 for 6 overall). The Sixers shot a woeful 36.4 percent from the floor to start the game. The Raptors, not to be outdone came in at 30.4 percent. In the first half the Sixers played to the level of the Raptors and you had the feeling that this was a game that the home team was going to let get away. Going into the half the Sixers held a 7-point advantage that felt like a lot less. Andre Iguodala (14 points 10 rebounds total) led the Sixers with 11 points and 6 rebounds while the Raptors Andrea Bargnani had 10 points and 6 boards.
The second half opened with the Raptors cutting the Sixers lead to three points – they wouldn’t get that close again. The home team outscored the Raptors 31-15 for the quarter including a 21-6 run that broke things open. The Sixers would lead by as many as 25 points as they shot a healthy 52 percent from the floor and would lead 73-49 after three quarters. Jrue Holiday was surperb running the pick and roll as he would end his night with 14 points 6 assists and one turnover. There is an injury concerning center Spencer Hawes who is enjoying a potential breakout season. Hawes suffered a strained back while in action, the injury is similar to the one he suffered last season in a road game against the Hornets, Hawes status as of right now looks to be day-to-day.
The Sixers would hold the Raptors to 13 points in the fourth quarter to collect their fourth win in a row. The Sixers just completed the first of 18 back-to back games and are about to embark on 5 games in the next 6 nights including a home and home against the Wizards next weekend. Collins talked about how a game like tonight where he could rest power forward Elton Brand could hold long-term benefits, “We’ve only been at it 30 days and alot of times around the NBA, bigger guys it takes them awhile to get their legs. We feel strongly that EB is going to have his legs under him quickly.” Collins continued, “Sometimes he may be a step behind, but it’s not because he’s not trying. We feel like he’s getting closer everyday.”
One beneficiary of the extra minutes was rookie Nikola Vucevic who saw minutes early into the game and eventually made the most of his 20 minutes of action scoring 9 points and was tied for the team high in rebounds with 10. Vucevic was also in on a number of hustle plays and defensive stops adding two blocked shots to his stat line. Despite the early success the rook has kept his feet firmly planted, “Whenever coach calls my name, I have to be ready, I know what my job is out there, whether it’s scoring, rebounding or helping out on defense.”
The Sixers face the surprising Indiana Pacers Monday night beginning a week that will include some travel but little rest, something Thaddeus Young is well aware of. “It’s important for everybody to get rest, this is a tough stretch coming up, everybody’s going home to rest tonight, chill with their families and we’re right back at it Monday morning.”