Missing starting point guard Jose Calderon and forward Andrea Bargnani, the Toronto Raptors still managed to competitively challenge the playoff-bound 76ers.  Behind DeMar DeRozan and Jerryd Bayless who combined for 51 points — including 11/12 free throws from DeRozan — Toronto rallied from a 12 point half-time deficit to a 98-93 loss with a chance to tie in the closing seconds. 

Unfortunately for the Canadian squad, Bayless air balled a three-pointer from several feet beyond-the-arc at a chance for overtime. 

As the Raptors dropped to 6-34 away from home, the Sixers improved to 26-13 at the Wells-Fargo Center.  The home stand is the best mark since 2000-01 when an Allen Iverson led Sixers team went 29-12.  At 41-39 on the year and still trailing the Knicks for the sixth seed after a New York over New Jersey outcome, were poised for our 46th playoff appearance in franchise history.  Only two franchises in NBA history have more postseason exposure — the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. 

Coming out victorious evades a four game losing streak after previously falling to Milwaukee, Boston and New York.  With Orlando on the horizon this was a much needed win.  The Magic travel to town on Monday where Dwight Howard and Co. have won five consecutive at the WFC.  That’s not good news considering the Sixers still are trying to figure out their rotation without the company of Lou Williams and remain cold on the outside shooting front. 

Evan Turner continues to fill in as a ball-handler with Lou-Will out.  Against the Raptors the rookie entered the game early in the first quarter after Andre Iguodala picked up a pair of quick fouls.  Turner, who was lost in the rotation only a few weeks ago, played exceptional picking up 10 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 30 minutes.

Besides Turner, only Thad Young got extensive playing time off the bench.  Thad was great attacking the rim scoring 20 points on 8-13 shooting.  He continues to run well in transition and its showed of late tallying at least 20 points in five of the last seven games.  Oddly though, Young’s scoring has been a great asset but he’s not had an assist in the previous six outings.  The Sixers are 12-3 when he scores over 20 points. 

Along with Thad, Elton Brand has been a scoring machine of late putting up 20 points or more in four of the past five after only surpassing the 20 point mark twice in the 25 games prior.  Brand led all Sixers with 22 points on 10-16 shooting as he readies himself for his second career playoff stint. 

The frontcourt thrived vs. Toronto, but Jodie Meeks had another off night.  Against New York, Meeks went 0-8 from three-point territory, last night, his woes carried over witha  2-9 outing.  The former Kentucky standout was great in the month of March hitting 2.9 three-point attempts per night on 46 percent shooting from three.  In five April ball games he’s struggled to find his stroke averaging just 1.2 three-pointers on 23.1 percent.  Meeks is hopefully working out the kinks just in time for a postseason bout with either Miami or Boston. 

Head coach Doug Collins doesn’twant to end this season on a sour note.  Witha challenging showdown against Orlando and a snoozing finale against Detroit, Collins has made it clear he wants his club finishing above .500.  A 41-41 record will not be acceptable.  The skipper is striving for a 42-40 record to overcome that even plateau.  As long as they don’t lose both of their remaining two games the goal of an above .500 record would be reached. 

Beating Detroit seems likely, but defeating Orlando would be a real momentum builder. 

Philadunkia Notes:

  • Raptors head coach Jay Triano was clearly flustered with the officiating crew after a no-call foul on Andre Igoudala’s swat attempt at a Reggie Evans dunk.  Triano stormed the floor during a timeout and was ejected by the referee crew.  Triano’s Raptors have been out of playoff contention for quite sometime and slip to 21-58 overall. 
  • The 76ers put six  players in double figures led by EB’s 22 points and 20 by Thad.  Dre’ added 16 points while Jrue Holiday contributed a double-double — 13 points and 11 assists.
  • With Sixer killer Andre Bargnani out of the line up, the Sixers won the points in the paint battle — 50-36.
  • Bargnani’s absence also helped contribute to a stretch from midway through the first quarter into the second where the Raps went 26 straight possessions without a field goal.
  • Of course has the highlights of the Sixers 41st W.

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