When you tune in to a Toronto Raptors game you should have a pretty good idea of what you're going to see. That's one of the things Raptors coach Nick Nurse prides himself on. Win or lose, the Raptors are going to give it their best shot all night.
"I've always said when you flip on a Raptors game that you’ve got some sense of pride in the way these guys play," Nurse said.
That's what the Raptors did Tuesday night. They dug themselves an ugly 37-18 hole early, but they sure did fight back in a 109-102 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Amalie Arena.
Just two nights after Nurse said the Raptors' small-ball lineup couldn't handle Joel Embiid, Toronto opted to start small again against the 76ers superstar centre. For five and a half minutes Baynes sat as the 76ers racked up points. It wasn't necessarily Embiid who killed Toronto early, but his kickout passes started an onslaught of 3-pointers.
"It was a gamble we made going into the game," Fred VanVleet said." I thought we did a better job of it in the last game. Obviously they probably just told their guys to be ready to shoot and line them up and take them so they were they were a little bit better with their answer to our rotations tonight."
Nurse said he wasn't pleased with his defensive scheme. He took the blame for Toronto's poor rotations and inability to close out on Philadelphia's shooters. In the first quarter alone the 76ers shot 7-for-12 from behind the arc.
But Toronto wouldn't go away. The Raptors clawed out of a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to pull to make it a two-possession game late.
Norman Powell responded to being clobbered by Ben Simmons in a call blatantly missed by the referees, scoring 10 of his team-high 24 points in the second half.
"I meditated. Got my tech, was pissed off, meditated, and just let it go" Powell said. "Tried not to let it bother me because I had to get my focus back and help the team get a win. I was pissed. Yeah, I was pissed."
Embiid finished the night with 18 points on 3-for-13 shooting. It was far from pretty, but he was bailed out by some helpful 3-point shooting from Furkan Korkmaz who nailed five 3s for 19 points.
Fred VanVleet Snubbed in All-Star Voting
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet will not be heading to this year's NBA All-Star game. The 26-year-old guard was beaten out by James Harden, Julius Randle, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Zach LaVine, Ben Simmons, and Nikola Vucevic who were named Eastern Conference All-Stars.
"It is what it is. Obviously, you know, I'm human. I'm disappointed. I really, as much as it doesn't matter, it does matter, if that makes sense. I'm not gonna lie and say, oh, I don't care. Obviously I care, and it's something that I want to be a part of someday," VanVleet said. "But I think just having the proper perspective on it and the understanding that I'm not going anywhere. This is not going to be my last year being up for an All-Star. I think I was very close, and all the guys that made it were very deserving. That's the case every year. I'll keep getting better and getting myself a better case next year, and go from there. But I don't play for that. I try to play the game the right way. And also it's too much real shit going on the world for me to be crying about making the All-Star game, you know what I'm saying?"
Nurse was equally upset that his lead guard didn't make the cut.
"I'm very disappointed," he said. "I was trying to stop the narrative, the narrative that I kept hearing was oh, if you guys wouldn’t have had such a bad start. Well, the voting just ended yesterday, I mean we’re like 14 and 7 in our last 21. I mean, were you still stuck on our 2 and 8 start? I mean, Kyle's been out a bunch of games, he's picked up the slack for a six-time All-Star, won a lot of games, beat a lot of good teams, had huge games. I'm disappointed, I take nothing away from the guys that made it. I'm sure there's some other guys on other teams that are very disappointed as well but, I think he's played his guts out and our team’s played pretty well and he's been a big reason for it."
Up Next: Miami Heat
The Raptors will make the short journey over to Miami tomorrow to take on the Heat at 8 p.m. ET.