Toronto Raptors

Tenacious Sixers don't back down from physical battle

Tenacious Sixers don't back down from physical battle

The Raptors didn’t go down without a fight.

Well, not an actual fight, but the game got heated before the buzzer sounded and the Sixers had fended off the Raptors’ 21-point comeback attempt.

With only 6.5 seconds left and the Sixers' 117-111 win iced (see observations), Ben Simmons and Kyle Lowry had words after a trip to the free throw line. Both were tossed, hand motions seemed to be made to toward the locker room, and buzz quickly circulated about a postgame altercation away from the court (see video).

Both players said that was not the case.

“Off the court? No,” Simmons said. “I just went to the locker room … Nobody was back there."

Lowry said of the incident, “Nothing at all. Things happen.”

Meanwhile, the Sixers locker room had a leak and the team was redirected after the game to a different one a few steps down the hall in the Wells Fargo Center.

Brett Brown believes the incident began when Jakob Poeltl hit Simmons on a box out. Simmons didn’t know what exactly sparked Lowry. He pointed to the possibility of a frustration over a loss, only the Raptors’ 13th of the season. Whatever the reason, Simmons didn’t need an explanation.

“I don't know if they're just trying to test me or see how I am on the court,” Simmons said. “But I don't play around. I'm not going to take s--- from anybody.”

This is not the first time Simmons had been involved in a situation like this. In the Sixers' previous game against the Celtics, he dealt a hard foul to Marcus Morris, who bounced up and shoved him.

"It's been two Philly guys," Simmons pointed out. “Maybe it's a Philly thing. I don't know. They're tough players, I've seen them play. I'm the same way. I'm not going to let you push me around or push me and say whatever you want just because I'm not that type of player.”

Before Lowry and Simmons got into it, T.J. McConnell and DeMar DeRozan also had a chippy exchange. McConnell regained possession off a Raptors turnover and DeRozan pushed him for a foul. As the two guards exchanged words, DeRozan then pushed McConnell with one hand. The refs whistled DeRozan for a personal foul and both with technical fouls (see video).

“It's basketball,” McConnell said. “That kind of stuff happens. I kind of thought the shove wasn't needed, but I know he had no intent behind it. He's a good guy, so it was just the heat of the moment stuff.”

Brown said he could feel the physicality of the game right from the start. The Sixers needed that extra fire to beat the Raptors for the first time since Jan.18 of last year and improve to 20-20. They had been 0-8 so far this season against the top-three teams in the Eastern Conference (Celtics, Raptors, Cavaliers).

“That just shows you that a lot of guys on the team have passion,” Joel Embiid said. “We all want to compete.”

This time, Sixers avoid massive collapse

This time, Sixers avoid massive collapse

BOX SCORE

The Sixers tackled two hurdles on Monday afternoon: holding onto a substantial lead and beating a top-three team in the East. They conquered both as they held off the Raptors, 117-111, at Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers nearly blew a 21-point edge when the Raptors cut the lead down to one with three minutes to play. The Sixers were back up by eight with 1:25 to go, but C.J. Miles made it a three-point game with under 40 seconds to play thanks to a nifty tip-in.

It wasn’t until Joel Embiid drained a pair of free throws, all while waving to the crowd at the line, that the Sixers iced the contest with 11 seconds remaining. 

The Sixers had been 0-8 against the Celtics, Raptors and Cavaliers (the top three teams in the Eastern Conference) this season, including an 0-3 mark against the Raptors. With the win, the Sixers moved back up to .500 on the season as they now sit at 20-20. 

Embiid led all players with a 34-point, 11-rebound double-double. He scored 18 points in the first half alone. Embiid and Ben Simmons combined for the Sixers’ first 20 points of the game.

The Sixers have been in need of a spark off the bench and they got it in the form of T.J. McConnell. The reserve guard posted 18 points, six rebounds, eight dimes and three steals. He contributed when the Sixers were in a pinch. Simmons played just 1:36 in the second quarter after picking up this third foul. McConnell and Jerryd Bayless clocked a combined 18 minutes off the bench. McConnell posted seven points, four assists and three rebounds in that quarter. 

JJ Redick left the game with a left leg contusion and did not return.

The Sixers held off the Raptors' backcourt duo of DeMar DeRozan (24 points) and Philadelphia native Kyle Lowry (13 points). Delon Wright once again played well against the Sixers with 20 points off the bench for Toronto. 

Things got chippy between McConnell and DeRozan in the second quarter. As McConnell regained possession off a Raptors turnover, DeRozan pushed him and was called for a foul. McConnell took exception and had words for DeRozan, who then pushed him again with one hand. DeRozan was issued for a personal foul and both players were hit with techs. Sixers fans booed DeRozan for the rest of the game. 

The game didn't end without final sparks. Simmons and Lowry were both issued techs and ejected with only six seconds to play.

Markelle Fultz worked on free throws and driving drills before the game.

The Sixers are next in Boston to play the 34-10 Celtics Thursday. 

Shorthanded Raptors feast on reeling Cavaliers

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Shorthanded Raptors feast on reeling Cavaliers

TORONTO -- LeBron James and the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers absorbed their most-lopsided loss of the season when they were routed by the Toronto Raptors 133-99 on Thursday night.

The Cavaliers have dropped six of eight dating to a Christmas Day defeat at defending champion Golden State. James scored 26 points in this loss while Isaiah Thomas missed his first 11 shots.

After losing to Minnesota 127-99 on Monday, the Cavaliers fell by an even bigger margin. Toronto's 133 points were the most by any Cavaliers opponent this season, and marked the third straight game that Cleveland has allowed at least 127.

Fred VanVleet scored a career-high 22 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and a season-high 18 rebounds and the Raptors overcame the absences of two starters.

C.J.Miles scored 16 points, Pascal Siakam and Norm Powell each had 14 and DeMar DeRozan 13 for the Raptors, who were without point guard Kyle Lowry (bruised tailbone) and forward Serge Ibaka (suspension). Jakob Poeltl had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors.

VanVleet made six of eight 3-point attempts as the Raptors connected on a season-high 18 shots from beyond the arc (see full recap).

Clippers hold off Kings after blowing lead
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Tyrone Wallace intercepted a pass at midcourt and drove in for a dunk with 10.9 seconds left, moments after what looked like a costly turnover by Lou Williams, and the Los Angeles Clippers held off the Sacramento Kings 121-115 on Thursday night after blowing a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.

The Clippers, who lost DeAndre Jordan to a sprained left ankle in the second quarter, won their third straight over the Kings this season and their 11th in a row at Sacramento.

Williams finished with 30 points and six assists, one night after scoring a career-high 50 against defending champion Golden State. Blake Griffin had 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in his return to the Clippers after missing two games with a concussion, and Montrezl Harrell scored a season-best 25 -- including 16 in the second quarter when Los Angeles put up 43 points.

The Clippers led 106-92 early in the fourth before the Kings rallied to go ahead 113-112 on Bogdan Bogdanovich's layup with 2:10 remaining.

Griffin followed with a 3-pointer and Williams later scored on a short jumper, but the Kings pulled to 117-115 on George Hill's free throw with 24.9 seconds left (see full recap).

Ingram guides Lakers to 3rd straight win
LOS ANGELES -- Brandon Ingram scored 26 points, Lonzo Ball added 18 and the Los Angeles Lakers held off the short-handed San Antonio Spurs 93-81 Thursday night for their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Larry Nance Jr. had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who blew an early 19-point lead before running away in the fourth quarter. Ball contributed 10 rebounds and six assists as Los Angeles snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Spurs at Staples Center since April 2013, the last time the Lakers made the playoffs.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half for the Spurs, who committed 21 turnovers while playing without injured starters Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Danny Green.

Bryn Forbes scored 18 points and Dejounte Murray added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Ingram had an aggressive offensive game, and Ball hit four 3-pointers as the Lakers (14-27) hit the halfway point of what's looking like their fifth consecutive non-playoff season.

That would extend the longest postseason drought in franchise history for the 16-time NBA champions, but the Lakers' young roster has showed signs of life with three wins after a nine-game losing streak (see full recap).