Here are my key takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 117-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors Monday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.
— Ben Simmons won’t be a pushover in the NBA. Monday marked the second straight game the Sixers rookie got into an altercation with an opposing player. It’s crazy that both of those players are North Philly natives. But that’s a different story. On this day, he exchanged words with Kyle Lowry and both were ejected and appeared headed to fight in the hallway area after their ejections. Both players said nothing happened. However, Simmons showed a lot of spunk by standing up for himself against the Raptors and Lowry.
— As much as it’s important for Simmons to stand up for himself, the Sixers need to do a better job of protecting their cornerstone. He’s too important to be out there fighting. Perhaps one of their role players need to step up and become an enforcer whenever someone tries to mess with him. Kind of like what the Detroit Pistons did with Isiah Thomas. No one questioned the Chicago native’s toughness. However, teammates Bill Laimbeer and Rich Mahorn made sure opponents left the franchise player alone whenever Thomas instigated something.
— It was a little uncomfortable for the Sixers, but they felt good about not surrendering a lead. They had commanding 21-point advantages on three occasions in the third quarter. The Raptors pulled within one point in the fourth. However, the Sixers were able to hold on to their upset victory.
— The Sixers won in spite of horrible three-point shooting. They missed 19 of their 25 attempts to shoot 24 percent. JJ Redick went 2-for-6 on three-pointers, while T.J. McConnell finished 1-for-3. Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid all went 1-for-5 and Jerryd Bayless missed his lone three-point attempt.
— More so than their missed three-point attempts, the Sixers’ turnovers enabled the Raptors to get back into the game. Toronto scored 23 points off the Sixers’ 22 turnovers. Eight on their turnovers came in the fourth quarter.
‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards
— Best performance: It’s hard not to give this to Embiid even on a night when T.J. McConnell finished with a career-high 18 points. But Embiid finished with 34 points, 11 rebounds, one block. He did, however, have seven turnovers. However, the Sixers center was clutch in the fourth quarter, finishing with nine points and five rebounds. He made 7 of 8 foul shots in the final quarter.
— Worst performance: Lowry couldn’t avoid this one. He shot 3-for-16 from the field – missing 4 of 5 three-pointers – en route to finishing with 13 points in 37 minutes, 27 seconds after missing the previous three games with a tailbone bruise.
— Best defensive performance: McConnell gets this for being a pest, recording a team-high three steals to go with a block.
— Worst statistic: This goes to the Raptors missing all seven of their first-half three-pointers.
— Best statistic: You have to give this to the Raptors shooting 50 percent on three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
— Worst of the worst: This goes to Toronto’s effort. The Raptors were lackadaisical for three quarters. It was like they knew they would win no matter what. That approach turned out to be difference in the game.