Sixers fall to Raptors, but Robinson shows flashes

This season has been one in which the 76ers are looking for keepers. Not surprisingly, there probably aren't a lot on the current roster who should seek long-term mortgages in Philadelphia.

With nothing to lose except plenty of games, the last two seasons have been open auditions and as the team's 13-47 record attests, the casting call hasn't been stellar.

One player who could fit in the Sixers' future plans, although the body of work consists of just four games, is 6-foot-10 forward Thomas Robinson.

Robinson had 13 points and five rebounds in less than 15 minutes Monday in a 114-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors at the Wells Fargo Center.

"He's a bull," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. ". . . I would have played him more, but he got hit in the head and felt like he needed to come out."

Robinson said he took a shot to the chin but indicated he was fine after the game. He's also fine with the chance his new coach is affording him.

"I am keeping it simple and Coach is giving me a lot of confidence," Robinson said.

Brown isn't putting any restrictions on him to shoot the jumper. "Coach allows me to shoot, and is encouraging me to shoot it and for some reason that always helps," Robinson said.

Robinson's story has been well documented even in his brief time since being claimed off waivers on Feb. 24. He is on his fourth team in three seasons after being the fifth overall selection in the 2012 draft out of Kansas.

Unlike Robinson, Nerlens Noel came in with a big buildup and the 6-11 center is getting stronger as this endless season continues. If there is a rookie wall, he has vaulted over it.

Noel had 17 points and seven rebounds and hit all seven of his shots from the field. He has scored in double figures in eight of the last nine games.

"Coach is drawing a few more plays for me and I am staying active and finding my spots and taking shots I know I can hit," Noel said.

For now those shots are mainly dunks, but he is playing within himself.

Toronto (38-22) ended a five-game losing streak, even without all-star point guard and Philadelphia product Kyle Lowry, who missed his second straight game as he rested assorted bumps and bruises.

Toronto's DeMar DeRozan, a former all-star himself, made up for the loss of Lowry. DeRozan exploded for 35 points. For good measure he added nine rebounds and five assists.

"It didn't matter who we got this win against, we needed this win to get the monkey off our backs and get our confidence back," DeRozan said.

It's amazing that even a team that is 16 games over .500 like the Raptors can slowly lose confidence with a bad stretch.

As for the Sixers, they continue to play hard because every time out on the court is another audition. Players like guard Ish Smith (19 points off the bench), Robinson and others are trying to make a favorable impression.

Who the keepers are will be determined in time. The auditions will continue for the foreseeable future.