Skip to content
Our Archives
Link copied to clipboard

Raptors push Sixers' losing streak to five games

TORONTO - This team has lost its coach, its franchise player and, now, a season-high five games in a row.

TORONTO - This team has lost its coach, its franchise player and, now, a season-high five games in a row.

Still, the Sixers will be playing next week. Their latest vanquisher, Toronto, will not; the 111-104 win last night was the Raptors' 31st, despite a game-high 23 points from Sixers reserve Louis Williams.

Five losses? No problem, Williams said.

"At the end of the day, we still have 40 wins. We're still in the playoffs," Williams said. "We've been in this position before. We've come out swinging. Losing six games going into the playoffs might not be a bad thing for this team."

Of course, it's five, but Williams just might be projecting.

The Celtics visit tomorrow night, surely stinging after their embarrassment yesterday in Cleveland. The Sixers then finish against LeBron and Co., as Cleveland tries to match the 1985-86 Celtics' 40-1 home record.

So, the losing streak could run to seven games. The Sixers have not beaten either team.

Unsurprisingly, Williams' optimism was not shared.

"We were totally out of sync on the offensive and defensive end," said head coach Tony DiLeo.

"We're just not getting it together at the right time," said point guard Andre Miller, who was 2-for-14 from the field.

"We're struggling, for whatever reason," said Andre Iguodala, who had eight assists - and a season-high 10 turnovers.

They're struggling without Thaddeus Young, who was averaging 23 points in his previous 12 games before he went down March 31 with a right ankle and foot injury. Now 2-5 without him, the Sixers are stewing in doldrums that marked their entire campaign.

A 9-14 start cost Maurice Cheeks his job. Free-agent jewel Elton Brand then shut his season down with a shoulder injury in early February. The Sixers have lost four games in a row three other times this season.

The last two such streaks preceded runs of 11-3 and 10-5.

Then again, there was no fifth straight loss. In fact, they used a win over a doormat team like Toronto to end those other slides; first, over the Clippers, then the Wizards.

Coming off a heartening but losing effort Friday against Cleveland, which gave the Cavs home court throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Sixers could have used a stopper game.

Instead, Miller went cold and Iguodala gave it away.

With Young sidelined, Miller had stepped up his scoring to 17.5 points per game. He had 10 yesterday.

Not only did Miller miss his first six shots, none of his first 11 went through the hoop. The field goal he was credited with was goaltended. He finally connected with 2:38 left in the third quarter on a driving layup. And that was it.

Iguodala, typically, flashed brilliantly, but the turnovers killed the Sixers. The Sixers finished with 19, and the Raptors scored 31 points off them.

Without Williams' play in the second quarter, when he led the team from a six-point deficit to a seven-point lead, the game might have been a laugher.

Instead, it was tied at 53 at halftime and it was a one-point game at the end of the third. The Raptors pounced to start the fourth quarter, an 8-0 run that turned into a 14-point lead as the Sixers' defense disintegrated.

"Our pick-and-roll defense has been bad," Iguodala said.

It improved as the quarter waned, and Iguodala and Miller led a run that cut it to four points three times. They also cost the Sixers three chances to cut it further: Miller committed an offensive foul, Iguodala launched an air-ball three-pointer, then Shawn Marion stripped Iguodala with 36 seconds left.

Any win would have been remarkable, DiLeo said.

"Overall, I didn't like our chemistry," he said, lamenting the perceived progress from Friday. "We've got to go back to the drawing board. Build 'em up. This was a step backward."

Maybe . . . maybe not.

"We've got some guys beat up, a little tired. Once you get into the playoffs, it's a jump ball," said Williams, his glass half-full. "Chemistry? We're 80 games into the season. If we don't have chemistry by now, then this is how we're going to play."

For better or worse. *