This time, the 76ers held on while showing some fight.
They managed to literally stand up for themselves and withstand the Toronto Raptors’ charge en route to escaping with a 117-111 victory Monday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee was not peaceful. There were two altercations, with the final one leading to Sixers point guard Ben Simmons and Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry both being ejected with 6.5 seconds left. In all, there were six technical fouls given out.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey and Toronto reserve guard Fred VanVleet received one each for voicing their displeasure with way the game was called. Meanwhile, Simmons, Lowry, Sixers reserve point guard T.J. McConnell and Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan received technicals for being involved in altercations.
Things had been brewing in the fourth quarter.
Lowry appeared to get frustrated with Simmons, who bumped him while reaching between the North Philly native and Villanova product’s legs to retrieve the ball with 7.1 seconds left.
He yapped at the Simmons while the two walked down the court as Dario Saric was set to attempt foul shots with 6.5 seconds left. The former Cardinal Dougherty standout kept yapping while the Sixers power forward made both foul shots to give his squad a 117-111 advantage. Simmons appeared to get annoyed with Toronto’s Jakob Poelti on the box-out of Saric’s final foul shot. He bumped up against the Raptors reserve center as they headed up the court. That led to Simmons and Lowry exchanging more words and each receiving a technical.
After they both were ejected, Simmons suggested that they meet in the hallway to settle things. That’s when Lowry rushed off the court and into the tunnel that leads to the visitors’ locker room and the hallway.
“I don’t know,” Lowry said of the altercation. “I guess he thinks he’s somebody.”
According to both players, they never met in the hallway to fight. With water damage in the Sixers’ locker room, Simmons was directed into an NHL locker room the team used for players to get dressed.
“I didn’t see anybody back there,” Simmons said.
Asked if Lowry was trying to come after him, Simmons responded: “I don’t know where he’s at, so …”
The rookie said he honestly didn’t know what happened. He said maybe the Raptors were frustrated that they were down and about to lose.
“I think they were just trying to test me,” Simmons said. “I don’t know if they are trying to test me or see how I am on the court. But I don’t play around. I’m not going to take no [stuff] from anybody.”
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) January 15, 2018
This was the second straight came that Simmons got into an altercation with an NBA player from North Philly. On Thursday, Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris shoved him after Simmons knocked him to the court running through a screen.
“It’s been two Philly guys,” Simmons said. “So maybe it’s a Philly thing. I don’t know.
“They are tough players. I’ve seen them play. I’m the same way. I’m not going to let you push me around or push me and say whatever you want, just because I’m not that type of player.”
McConnell is the same way.
He and DeRozan had to be separated late in the second quarter. McConnell was dribbling the ball. Instead of making a move on it, DeRozan shoved the reserve point guard. McConnell turned around and got in the all-star’s face. DeRozan responded by pushing him away, and both were given technical fouls.
The Sixers (20-20) went on to snap their four-game losing streak against the Raptors (29-13). This was just their second victory over Toronto in 20 games since the start of the 2013-14 season.
The Sixers had a commanding 21-point cushion late in the third quarter. However, the Raptors closed the gap to 102-101 with 3 minutes, 3 seconds remaining.
But Simmons responded with a layup to give the Sixers a three-point edge. Then he found Saric, who was standing wide open at the three-point line, on the team’s next possession. He buried the three to give the Sixers a 107-101 advantage with 2:14 left.
After the Raptors pulled within four points, Simmons hit a pair of foul shots to make it a 109-103 game with 1:44 left. Then Robert Covington scored on a breakaway layup to extend the lead to eight points. The Raptors closed the gap to 111-108 after a Lowry three-pointer and CJ Miles put-back. But Joel Embiid went on to add four foul shots to give the Sixers a 115-108 advantage.
Embiid scored a game-high 34 points to go with 11 rebounds. McConnell added a career-high 18 points off the bench. Simmons finished with 12 points.
Lowry struggled in his first appearance after missing three games with a bruised tailbone. He had 13 points on 3-for-16 shooting. He also had seven rebounds and four assists.
DeRozan paced the Raptors with 24 points.
Sixers shooting guard JJ Redick (15 points) suffered a bruised left leg with 4:37 left and did not return. The Sixers did not elaborate on his injury.