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Raptors grind out victory over Sixers

The SportsXchange

TORONTO - It wasn't pretty but it was good enough for the Toronto Raptors' first win in three tries against the Philadelphia 76ers this season.

With Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan scoring 19 points each and the defense doing a good job on Sixers guard Jrue Holiday for most of the game, the Raptors came away with a 90-72 victory before a crowd of 15,629 at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday.

"We had to grind it out," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. "You are talking about one of the top defensive teams. Doug [Philadelphia coach Collins] is always going to coach a tough team. Our guys did a good job short-handed. Everybody stepped in and did a solid job."

The only thing Casey was not pleased with was the Raptors' final two points of the game, an alley-oop dunk by Landry Fields on a pass from Jose Calderon with 15 seconds to play.

"You never want to show another team up, and I didn't want them to shoot that last basket," Casey said. "Jose must not have heard me. Those things happen, but you can't control guys and Jose felt bad about it after he did it. We've had it happen to us 15-20 times this season."

The Sixers have had a difficult schedule and were playing for the second night in a row.

"I think what happens is when you get a little fatigued, the ball sticks, guys don't move," Collins said. "They did a good job, they got the ball in the paint late in the game rolling to the basket."

Johnson added 12 rebounds as the Raptors ended a two-game losing string while the 76ers have lost five in a row.

Ed Davis added 17 points and had nine rebounds while Calderon scored 14 points with 11 assists. Fields had season highs with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Holiday and Thaddeus Young led Philadelphia with 16 points each and Evan Turner added 10. Holiday scored eight of his points in the third quarter, but other than that, Toronto did well defending him. Holiday also had four assists.

"I don't think we had it today," Holiday said. "We didn't have the energy from the start. That is really it, we just didn't have any energy today."

"We got to within six and we just had nothing left," Collins said. "So it goes six to 18 to finish the game."

"We had some schemes in place with Amir and Eddie doing a good job of helping, staying a little bit longer," Casey said. "Everybody was tied in defensively. We did a good job on [Holiday]."

Toronto (13-22) entered the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead and was up 73-61 when Alan Anderson scored the first two points of the fourth quarter with a pull-up jumper. Neither team scored in the next three minutes until Young hit an eight-foot hook shot to cut the Raptors' lead to 10. Holiday and Young moved Philadelphia (15-22) to within six points of Toronto.

Johnson`s layup with 6:19 to play had the Raptors leading 75-67. DeRozan was fouled while making a driving lineup and converted the free throw to make the lead 11. The Raptors led by 12 with two minutes to play, and when Davis made consecutive layups, the lead was 16. Fields` dunk got the lead to 18.

"I just want to say I'm sorry about the last play," Calderon said. "I didn't realize the time. I felt bad when I realized what I was doing."

Fields was contrite as well. "I actually want to apologize for that," he said. "I saw we had to take a last shot anyway but it could have been done a lot better."

But the result was good whatever the margin.

"We knew we were flat in the first and third quarter the last couple of games," Calderon said. "We needed to come back and we did. We played a real good 48 minutes."

The Raptors took a two-point lead into the second half and the score was tied five times before they took a seven-point lead after Johnson hit one of two free throws with 4:34 to play in the third quarter. Anderson`s 3-pointer gave Toronto a 69-57 lead with 1:39 to play in the quarter.

Young hit a pair of free throws to bring the Sixers back to within eight points, but Johnson made a put-back layup in the final second of the third quarter to give Toronto a 71-61 lead.

Toronto led by as many as eight points in the second quarter but led only 42-40 at the half.

Notes: Rookie guard Terrence Ross (sprained left ankle) and forward Linas Kleiza (sore right knee) were out for the Raptors. ...forward/center Andrea Bargnani (right elbow) and center Jonas Valanciunas (right ring finger) continued to be sidelined for Toronto ...Center Kwame Brown missed his second consecutive game for Philadelphia for personal reasons. ...The Sixers were playing the second part of back-to-back after losing at home to Brooklyn. It was the fourth consecutive set of back-to-back games for Philadelphia. After Wednesday's game, the 76ers will play 12 of their next 13 games at home, including a run of eight in a row. ...Collins does not like such imbalanced scheduling. "I'm not one to make excuses but in 40 years in the NBA I've never seen anything like it," he said before the game. "It's been brutal." ...The Sixers opened their season with a 10-6 record before winning only five of their next 20 entering Wednesday. ...Toronto plays next on Saturday at home against the Houston Rockets. The Raptors are home on Friday against the Charlotte Bobcats.
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