TORONTO – The 76ers returned to the scene of last postseason’s heartbreak.
Like on May 12, they exited Scotiabank Arena Monday night with a loss. This time, it was a 101-96 regular-season decision to the Toronto Raptors. And it marked the first time in his career that Joel Embiid failed to score a point.
The setback dropped the Sixers’ record to 11-6 and snapped their four-game winning streak. It also marked their sixth loss in their last seven road games. The Sixers are 4-6 on the road compared to 7-0 at the Wells Fargo Center. And it marked the Sixers’ 14th consecutive regular-season loss in Toronto.
Meanwhile, the Raptors (12-4) remain undefeated through this season’s seven home games.
As good as Toronto has been playing, this was a bad loss for a Sixers squad aspiring to win an NBA title.
The Raptors were without Serge Ibaka (right ankle sprain), Kyle Lowry (fractured left thumb), Matt Thomas (fractured left middle finger), Patrick McCaw (left knee surgery), Stanley Johnson (left groin stress reaction), and Dewan Hernandez (right thumb sprain).
“I think we have four or five games we should have won,” said Sixers guard Josh Richardson, agreeing this was a missed opportunity. "I think it’s good to go through this right now instead of later.
“We’ve talked about those games. So it’s just something going forward, we have to get better at.”
Embiid had a night he would like to forget. He failed to score a point while missing all 11 shots and going 0-for-3 from the foul line in 32 minutes.
One could argue his struggles had to do with facing Marc Gasol. Embiid had shot just 34.4% in his previous five head-to-head regular-season contests against the Raptors center.
However, this also marked the Sixers’ fourth game in six nights, and Embiid is trying to get into game shape. There was a sense that Embiid would have been held out of playing two games on back-to-back nights for much-needed rest.
However, he not only played on both Friday and Saturday but also competed in all four games. And on Monday, he was out of sorts offensively.
“I didn’t look fatigued and I was definitely not fatigued,” said Embiid, who had a game-high 13 rebounds.
He believes the Raptors’ defensive scheme was the difference. Embiid said Toronto forced him into a lot of tough shots.
“Marc didn’t help on the picks I was setting,” Embiid said, "and on the post, obviously they were doubling from the time the ball was in the air.
“When you’re not making shots, it’s tough. But I tried to take advantage of it by setting screens and holding it until my teammates got open.”
Embiid also had four turnovers, including two on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter.
“I can’t have this type of production,” he said. "I would have never thought I would be here talking about zero points in an NBA game. But it is what it is.
“Some nights you make shots, some nights you don’t."
Josh Richardson did his part to make up for Embiid’s struggles. The shooting guard followed up Saturday’s season-high 32 points with a 25-point effort against the Raptors. On this night, he made 5-of-9 three-pointers. Ben Simmons and Al Horford each had a double-double for the Sixers; Simmons had 10 points and 14 assists, and Horford had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Sixers struggled mightily shooting the ball in the second quarter. They shot 5-for-23 (21.7%) overall and 2-for-13 (15.3%) on three-pointers in the quarter, when they scored 15 points.
The Sixers also struggled to make shots in the fourth quarter, going 7-for-19 (36.8%) and 2-for-9 (22.2%) on threes. They were held scoreless after Richardson’s turnaround jump with 4:02 left gave them a 96-91 cushion.
Philly went on to miss its final eight shots and commit three of its 16 turnovers.
“I mean, we have to be better,” Tobias Harris said. “The late fourth quarter, we have to be better engaged offensively and defensively, executing on both sides of the floor.”
Pascal Siakam’s three-point play with 1:01 left gave Toronto the lead at 97-96.
This was the teams’ first meeting since they met in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals. Kawhi Leonard, now with the Clippers, hit a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer that lifted the eventual NBA champion Raptors to a 92-90 Game 7 victory over the visiting Sixers.
On this night, Siakam had 25 points and Fred VanVleet had 24 points and eight assists.
Sixers reserve guard Furkan Korkmaz had nine points after missing Saturday’s game against Miami because of a sprained left ankle. Meanwhile, Sixers backup center Kyle O’Quinn was sidelined with a left calf strain, suffered that injury in the fourth quarter of the 113-86 victory over the Heat.
The Sixers went to Raul Neto as their backup point guard after he played just garbage minutes against the Heat. The fifth-year veteran didn’t play at all in the two games before that. Trey Burke didn’t play Monday after being the backup point guard in the previous four games.
Chester’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 16 points in a reserve role for Toronto.