The Sixers’ modest road winning streak has come to an end.
They fell Wednesday night to the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena, 107-95, snapping a run of two straight away wins and four straight victories overall.
The defeat drops them to 29-17 this season, 5-3 since Joel Embiid has been sidelined because of a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand. The Sixers, who next play the Lakers on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center, haven’t won a regular-season game in Toronto since Nov. 10, 2012.
Here are observations on the loss:
Another starter suffers an injury
With 8:08 to go in the first quarter, Brett Brown called a timeout as Josh Richardson grabbed at his left hamstring. The Sixers’ guard left the game with a left hamstring strain and did not return.
Richardson came into Wednesday’s game averaging 15.4 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds. His perimeter defense, shot creation and pick-and-roll ability have been valuable skills.
The 26-year-old missed six games in a row from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8 because of right hamstring tightness.
Shake Milton entered when Richardson left, his 13th NBA appearance this season. The second-year player started brightly, sinking a three-pointer from the right wing on his first shot.
However, Milton only made 2 of his next 9 shots and was outmuscled on a couple of plays. He was passable overall in a tough spot.
Furkan Korkmaz chipped in 17 points (6 of 13 shooting) off the bench, his fifth straight game in double figures. This was one of Korkmaz’s better defensive efforts, too.
The Sixers also looked to Tobias Harris to fill the scoring void without Richardson. Harris had a team-high 22 points on 18 shots.
Al Horford faded after hitting a couple of early jumpers and shot 3 for 11.
Turnover problems for Simmons
After his 34-point triple-double Monday night in Brooklyn, Ben Simmons could not meet that same extremely high level again.
Though Simmons was aggressive on the offensive boards and had 10 assists, he also turned it over six times in the first half, which enabled the Raptors to get back into the game after they trailed by 14 points in the first quarter. The turnovers were a combination of the Raptors simply doing a good job of walling Simmons off in the open floor and Simmons either being slow to make a decision when encountering a set defender or choosing the wrong pass. To Simmons’ credit, he’d only averaged 2.1 turnovers over his previous nine games.
The other main reasons the Sixers’ lead evaporated in the second were that they missed a lot of the open three-point looks they’d made in the first period and didn’t get to the foul line enough. They shot 2 of 9 from three and scored 15 second-quarter points, while Harris was the only Sixer besides Simmons to attempt a free throw in the first half.
A first loss with Thybulle starting
Matisse Thybulle started for his fifth straight game but left after just three minutes when he picked up his second foul on a Kyle Lowry pump fake, leaving his feet and making the sort of mistake he’s talked about learning to avoid.
Thybulle is usually a peripheral offensive player and has struggled with his shot since returning from his right knee injury — although he did knock down two fourth-quarter threes. Still, he’s shown a consistent ability to start and finish fast breaks, like he did early in the third quarter when he stole the ball and blazed past the lumbering Marc Gasol for a dunk.
The duo of Thybulle and Simmons seemed to get their hands on every other pass the Raptors tried during a stretch early in the third.
The Sixers are now 7-1 when Thybulle starts.
Pelle’s final day — for now
Norvel Pelle played in Wednesday’s game, meaning he’s used up every one of the 45 NBA days he’s allotted under his two-way contract. He had one point, four rebounds and two blocks in 12 minutes.
Though the Sixers opted against converting Pelle to a NBA deal because of their desire to maximize flexibility ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline, he could still get an NBA spot with the Sixers if a roster slot ultimately becomes open.
For now, the energetic, rim-protecting rookie is in an odd limbo and must stay with the Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers’ G-League affiliate.
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