Tony Wroten and the Sixers lost to the Raptors, 108-100, for their 10th consecutive defeat away from home. (USA Today Images)
TORONTO -- After the Sixers lost their 10th consecutive road game, 108-100, to the Raptors on Friday (see Instant Replay), Spencer Hawes was asked:
What do you think broke your guys' backs?
“When they hit those threes in, I don’t know about 45 seconds,” Hawes said. “After something like that, you can battle back but you only have so many shots left in you.”
The sequence that Hawes was referring to began at the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Greivis Vasquez, newly acquired by the Raptors in a seven-player trade with the Kings, made a three-pointer to put Toronto up, 90-82.
At the 7:35 mark, Amir Johnson made his only three-point attempt of the game. And then 15 seconds later, Vasquez stole the ball and kicked it ahead to DeMar DeRozan, who then rewarded his new teammate by giving it right back -- another made three followed by Vasquez.
Just like that, Toronto's five-point lead jumped to 14, forcing Brett Brown to call a timeout and the Sixers never fully recovered.
The Raptors, who finished 10 of 25 from behind the arc, were 4 of 8 from three-point range in the fourth quarter.
“Everybody gets into their groove against us right now,” Evan Turner, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, said. “We are going to need a little luck and obviously put ourselves in the best position. Sometimes we get in some curious situations. We were down two points, me and Spencer run a typical backdoor and I slip on the wet floor. Tough stuff like that, but we have to keep fighting.”
“I give them credit,” Brown said. “They made some big shots. They made some big threes when they needed to but I am happy with our guys' effort -- they didn’t roll over. They really tried to play it through to the end.”
The Sixers cut the Raptors' lead to two with 1:55 left in regulation, but if there was any part of the game the Sixers regretted most, it was the first quarter. They allowed the Raptors to shoot 67 percent from the floor and score 36 points, including the frame's final 10, en route to a 15-point deficit heading into the second quarter.
“I want these guys coming out with an edge. Tight, a little bit angry,” Brown said. “But we come out loose at times and it gets to where it is not that desperate stage that we always need to play like. And it is hard. That is sport at any level. We just have to come out sharper.”
Sharp was Toronto’s Terrence Ross, who scored 24 points with four of his field goals coming from behind the arc. DeRozan, who scored 33 points the last time these two teams played, scored a game-high 27 points.
“Talk about bouncy athletes. You go with Ross and DeRozan, you talk about athleticism, plus they can come off screens and shoot like they do," Brown said. "They are really difficult people to defend. Those two guys had fantastic games throughout.”
For the Sixers, Thaddeus Young scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, and Tony Wroten scored a team-high 23 points including 5-of-8 shooting from long distance -- miraculous for a 19 percent three-point shooter coming into Friday.
“I didn’t see that coming at all,” Brown said of Wroten’s shooting. “I hoped it would come but not to the level it came. We hoped that he would nip away at it and make some progress, but to go 5 of 8 is unheard of.
“I am more concerned with the process than the result. But I am happy with the direction his shot is going. He is a 20-year-old kid that gets to the rim when he wants. If he can partner that up with the ability to shoot, that is a pretty special combination.”