TORONTO -- It is nice to have a formula for winning basketball games that you can use on a nightly basis.
For the Sixers, they have found a particular mix of play during the third quarter this season and it has left them on the wrong side of the scoreboard more often than not.
Wednesday night was no different, as the Sixers were outscored by eight points in the third quarter of a 90-72 loss to the Toronto Raptors (see Instant Replay).
The defeat dropped the Sixers record to 15-22. Over the last five games -- all losses -- the Sixers have been outscored in the third quarter, 150-97.
We couldnt get any stops, head coach Doug Collins said. We gave them a 29-point quarter. We pushed it out, got to within six and then we just had nothing left, so it goes six to 18 to finish. Everything we did was a jump shot. We just didnt have anything.
During the Sixers five-game skid, they have been relatively close with their opponents at intermission. Outside of last Saturdays matchup against San Antonio when the Sixers trailed by 12, they trailed by a combined six points in the other games of their current slide.
The Sixers trailed by just two points heading into the second half on Wednesday night. However, they allowed the Raptors to shoot 63 percent in the frame and headed into the fourth quarter with a 10-point deficit.
Not ideal circumstances for a Sixers team that is just 1-21 when trailing after three quarters.
I think we would be lying if we didnt say it affects us, Spencer Hawes said. You come out, you hit a couple shots. I think that gets everyone going, but I think the key is managing that when you go through stretches and not letting it bring everyone down.
It is human nature. You feel better if you get it going early. You get a little bit of a lead. It brings everybodys juice up and when it goes the other direction, not letting that take us so far on the wrong side of a run that it puts the game out of reach.
Hawes finished with six points and nine rebounds. The Sixers were led in scoring by Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young, who each scored 16 points, though in Holidays case he needed 18 shots to get his total.
Holiday would like to see the Sixers get back to playing the defense that helped them get off to a 10-6 start despite having many nights when they struggled to put points on the board.
The Sixers are 27th in the NBA in scoring, averaging just 93 points. A lack of scoring flows into other areas of the game for everyone.
I think that is always discouraging for any shooter, any scorer, if you dont see the ball go in, Holiday said. Even for your teammates when you make a nice pass or the extra pass, you do all that and you dont see the ball go in, it definitely deflates your energy.
I think any time you score the ball it gives you energy defensively, Collins said. There are very few teams that can play for long periods of time missing shots. I think of the Pat Riley teams, the Jeff Van Gundy teams where they would just grind you, grind you, grind you and maybe not score for six minutes but you wouldnt either. There are not a lot of teams that have that kind of makeup.
With the poor shooting, the air just seems to come out of you.
The Sixers shot 39 percent for the game, while the Raptors made 49 percent of their shots. Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan led Toronto in scoring with 19 points apiece. Jose Calderon had a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists.
The Sixers were without one of their offensive weapons when Collins opted to give shooting guard Jason Richardson the night off.
I felt if I rested him tonight that would give him three days, and with all that we have ahead of us and what we had behind us, I thought it would be a great time for us to buy some time, Collins said.
I went to him before the game and said I never want to take somebodys competitiveness away from them, but I said how about a San Antonio Spurs day. Greg Popovich will sometimes rest a Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker just simply because what the schedule dictates and you can give somebody three days rest.
Richardson will rejoin the rest of his teammates on the court Saturday when the Sixers return to home to face the Houston Rockets.
E-mail Dei Lynam at email@example.com.