Ah yeah, one of those staff-stuffing nights that every team needs every once in awhile. Andrea Bargnani again led the way with 24 points, Reggie Evans chipped in 12 points and a career-high 22 rebounds and Jose Calderon turned back the clock to 2008 as the Raptors ran wild against the Sixers, winning 106-90 for their fourth straight victory. Toronto jumped on Philly early, leading by 15 through a quarter and never looking back to run its record to 6-9 on the young season.
Evans had 10 rebounds in the first quarter, a team-record 15 in the first half and finished with the second highest total in team history, continuing his season-long mastery of the boards and doing so against the team that dumped him on the Raptors for Jason Kapono prior to last season. His 12 points were a season-high, and the 21 he’s scored in the last two wins alone are just 11 short of what he’d contributed in the first 12 games of the year combined. In all, a monster performance for the big fella, who I so stupidly was calling for to get yanked from the starting five just one short week ago.
Bargnani, meanwhile, had his fourth straight game of 24-plus points, doing the deed on 8-of-16 from the field. Since a 12-point effort in a loss to Washington last Tuesday, he’s averaged 27.3 points in four games (all wins, of course) while shooting a mighty-fine 56.3% from the field. Once again, his rebounding wasn’t quite there tonight — he grabbed five in 33 minutes — but he had a season-high three blocks and handled a weak Philadelphia inside attack with relative ease.
Calderon was also big in the win, scoring 16 points on 7-of-10 and adding nine assists. Jerryd Bayless, making his Toronto debut in relief of Calderon, had 13 points in 15 minutes and made all three of his attempts from beyond the arc, including a buzzer-beater to end the first and give the Raptors a 33-18 lead. Peja Stojakovic checked in late in the first half and registered seven points in his debut in just six minutes.
The Sixers, who were without a suspended Elton Brand, were led by Andre Iguodala’s 17 points, eight boards and six assists. It’s a shame, really, because Iguodala would make a great second or third option on a good team, but is apparently nowhere near capable of carrying a team on his own. Oh well — one day, I’m sure, he’ll team up with some guys other than Brand, Lou Williams and Spencer Hawes and make something of his career.
Anyway, another win to suddenly add some early optimism to what was shaking up to be a rather hellish year in Raptorland. On a sad note, the three-game homestand draws to a close with a date in Boston on Friday night, where the Raptors will hopefully score a Celtics team that’ll still be void of Rajon Rondo. After that, its back to Air Canada Centre for the Hawks, Wizards, Thunder and Knicks.