It was an all-too familiar sight. The Sixers had a 22-point lead with just over nine minutes left in the third and by the time the clock read 1:18 the game was tied. The problems were clear, the Sixers fouled too often and at bad times, sending guys to the free throw line where they connected on a perfect 9-of-9. Five Sixers' turnovers turned into 11 points for the Raptors and even though DeMar DeRozan was already having a great night, especially from deep, the Sixers failed to defend on the perimeter. Oh…and there was Delon Wright scoring 12 points in his 9:35 on the floor. At this point though, how it happened is not as important as the fact that it keeps happening. The Sixers have to learn how to hold onto a lead in the second half, with and without Joel Embiid.
Speaking of DeMar DeRozan
When he opens a game 4-of-4 from three, it's going to be hard to stop him. A career 28 percent three-point shooter, who is averaging just 2.5 three-point attempts this season, DeRozan finished the night 6-of-9 from three for a career-high 45 points. DeRozan averages 24 points a game and is always a guy that finishes strong and causes foul problems for the other team, but extending his game to the perimeter makes him even more difficult to defend and the Sixers, try as they might, did not have an answer for him.
Dario Saric deserves all the credit
Here is a list of things that Saric is great at: Being acutely aware of the shot clock, passing in a dynamic way, passing with precision, seeing an open lane two seconds before it's available, celebrating with the exact amount of aggression that is appropriate, walking away when the calls are ridiculous, and stepping up and in a big way when he is needed. Dario Saric is a bad man. He finished just an assist shy of a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. I think there is a tendency to under value what Saric brings to the table for the Sixers because he is often overshadowed when Embiid is in the game and his utility is not always to score big numbers but he deserves credit for doing what he does and doing it well.
The Sixers foul a lot, that is not news. And, in every game there are going to be a few calls that can be argued and considered questionable. But the Sixers fouls often come at the wrong time and in volume at the wrong time. The Sixers sent the Raptors to the line 35 times where they converted for 32 easy points. The foul shots alone were enough to make up for the Sixers 22-point lead and the five-point margin that Toronto won the game by. Brett Brown has noted that fouling for his team is a problem, but a fix for the problem has not been made.
Robert Covington returns
Who knew that all Covington needed was a little…um…relief. After a quick trip to the locker room during the first quarter he came out and looked like the Covington from earlier this season. He finished the game with 5-of-12 from three for 19 points, to go with seven rebounds and five steals. Unlucky for Covington, who was largely tasked with guarding DeRozan, that DeRozan decided to have a career night.