(Howard Smith-US Presswire)
For two months the Sixers have slowly unraveled to the point where coach Doug Collins has flashed back to last season’s 3-13 start. In last night’s 99-78 loss to the Toronto Raptors, the Sixers suffered the type of meltdown that leaves players frustrated, fans angry and coaches looking for answers.
(Howard Smith – US Presswire)
Doug Collins’ opening statement after last night’s 99-78 humiliation at the hands of the Toronto Raptors said it all. “I really don’t have anything to say. I don’t know what to say, so I’ll take questions.”
There were moments in the presser where Collins had a question or two for the press – even willing to take suggestions on what he should do to stop the downward spiral.
Even with the questions came no answers – is there an explanation for scoring seven fourth quarter points after opening the game 15 for 23 (65.2%)? How about a defensive effort that only got worse as the game wore on? Andre Iguodala (6 points, 6 assists) started last night’s game and was ineffective at both ends on a night where the opposition had four of five players in double figures. The Toronto Raptors completely outhustled the Sixers in every facet of last night’s game. The most glaring statistical difference was the Raptors outrebounding the Sixers 46-29 including 11 offensive.
The Raptors shot 50 percent or better in the first and fourth quarters while the Sixers shooting did a steady nosedive ending with an unacceptable 3 for 20 in the fourth quarter.
The Sixers led after a hot shooting first quarter 31-29, the Raptors surprisingly matched the Sixers shot for shot and when the game got sloppy, it was the Raptors who were hustling for loose balls and rebounding on the offensive glass. In the second period the Sixers got major contributions for Spencer Hawes who finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds, Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday (20 points, 5 assists) and Elton Brand (20 points 4 rebounds) and managed to go into the half leading 56-55.
From there it was all Raptors as they would outscore the Sixers 44-22 in the second half as the Sixers were unable to defend and the bench which has been a source of strength was outscored 26-18 as Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young shot a combined 6 for 17 (15 points).
Talking with Elton Brand after the game I got the sense that the leader of the Sixers was not as worried as the fans or even his coach may be. “We know what’s in front of us now - there are no excuses, we’re professionals and we’ll get it done.”
After blowing the division lead to the Celtics (1.5 games back), and now in the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference making the playoffs altogether is now an issue. Nine of the Sixers remaining twelve games on the road - there is no room for error.