The 76ers did what they do best … or worst.
They blew a lead in the second half en route to suffering yet another loss.
This time, it happened against the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night. The Raptors battled back from a 22-point deficit in the third quarter to take a 114-109 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
"You always worried about it," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of losing second-half leads becoming a trend. "Is it something that we think is going to continue to be an epidemic? No, I don't."
The loss dropped the Sixers — who were without starters Joel Embiid and JJ Redick — to 14-17 and extended their losing streak to four games. This also marked their eighth setback in nine games. Meanwhile, the Raptors (22-8) have won five straight and 11 of 12 games.
The inability to stop DeMar DeRozan was a key factor in the loss.
The Raptors' three-time all-star finished with a career-high 45 points while making a career-high six three-pointers in nine attempts. Fifteen of DeRozan's points came in the first quarter as he went 4 for 4 on three-pointers. He came back and scored 21 of his points after intermission.
"Sometimes you have games where you let your all-star take over," said Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, a Philly native. "The offense may not be as beautiful as it was last night [in a 129-111 win in Charlotte], but his game was beautiful, and we got a win."
Lowry, another three-time all-star, added 23 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. He had seven turnovers. Fourteen of the Villanova product's points came in the second half.
Ben Simmons led the Sixers with 20 points to go with seven turnovers, while Dario Saric added 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Their performance didn't stop the Sixers from falling apart after intermission.
The home squad had a commanding 22-point lead (76-54) after Robert Covington's three-pointer with 9 minutes, 9 seconds left in the third quarter. But the Raptors went on a 22-2 run to pull within 78-76 on Serge Ibaka's pair of foul shots with 3:23 remaining in the quarter.
"I think they jumped us," Brown said. "It wasn't that they double-teamed Ben [Simmons] or they blitzed pick-and-rolls. They got physical. And you know it. That's what the NBA does."
Brown even blew two timeouts in the quarter as way to get his squad "strong." But it didn't matter against the Raptors.
Toronto went on to tie the score at 84 with 1:13 left in the third. The Raptors made 5 of 8 three-pointers in the quarter.
"It felt like 10 of 11," Brown said.
Toronto went on to take the lead, 101-100, on Lowry's three foul shots with 4:42 left to play. The Raptors extended their lead to five points (107-102) on Ibaka's layup.
The Sixers closed the gap to two points (109-107) on Simmons' foul shot with 1:31 left. They had a chance to take the lead, but Covington misfired on a three-pointer with 1:11 remaining. The Raptors went on to get a five-point cushion after DeRozan made a pair of foul shots with 6.4 seconds left.
Embiid missed his third consecutive game with tightness in his back. He was listed as questionable after being a limited participant in Thursday morning's shootaround. Then he was listed as probable an hour and 45 minutes before the game.
At the time, Brown said the final decision would be made after Embiid participated in his pregame warm-ups. He looked fine in the light workout and even danced a little on the court. However, Embiid was ruled out 30 minutes before the game.
He isn't expected to play on Saturday against the Raptors at Air Canada Centre.
Meanwhile, Redick, out with right hamstring tightness, is doubtful for Saturday's game as well.