Strong play down the stretch has fueled the Philadelphia 76ers’ first three-game winning streak of the season.
This doesn’t bode well for the Toronto Raptors, who have been particularly vulnerable in the fourth quarter.
The 76ers try to make it four in a row Saturday night when they host the Raptors in the first meeting of the season between these Atlantic Division rivals.
After opening the season with a five-game road trip, Philadelphia (4-2) became the NBA’s final team to play a home game Friday, defeating Detroit 96-73. The Sixers, who play 14 of their next 17 games at the Wells Fargo Center, led the Pistons 68-62 at the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter before going on a 24-8 run to put the game out of reach.
“It felt good just to see all the fans back here and play in front of them here in Philly,” said Spencer Hawes, who finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Jodie Meeks led Philadelphia’s late charge, scoring 17 of his season-best 21 points in the fourth. He had totaled 24 points on 33.3 percent shooting in his first five games.
“You could see him just be delighted to finally see that ball go through the basket,” coach Doug Collins said.
Philadelphia outscored Detroit 32-17 in the fourth quarter, which it is making a habit of dominating.
The Sixers are averaging an NBA-best 30.2 points in the final period, and have outscored their opponents by an average of 13.0 points in the fourth during their winning streak. Overall, Philadelphia is one of the league’s highest-scoring team at 101.5 points per game.
The Raptors (3-4) have been solid defensively for the most part, allowing an average of 92.3 points, but have struggled to shut down opponents late. They’re allowing an average of 26.0 points in the fourth quarter, fifth-worst in the league.
Toronto, which split four games with the Sixers last season, arrives in Philadelphia after losing 97-85 at home to New Jersey on Friday, the first of seven games in nine days.
“It goes back to us not stepping on the court and playing desperate,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Not playing tight, but playing like a desperate, hungry team and I don’t think we did that.”
Like DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani also didn’t have his normal scoring outburst, finishing with 17 points - 10.5 less than he averaged in his previous four games. Bargnani averaged 23.7 points on 59.1 percent shooting in three games versus the Sixers last season.
Philadelphia’s Louis Williams, scoring a team-best 17.8 points per game, averaged 7.7 and shot 25.0 percent in three games against the Raptors in 2010-11. The scoring average and field-goal percentage were both his lowest against any Eastern Conference opponent.