Tyrese Maxey scored a career-high 44 points as the Sixers routed Toronto 112-90 on Friday, two nights after the Raptors had soundly beat them. Toronto forward Scottie Barnes said it's hard to stay focused against the same opponent, a new challenge as the NBA reintroduces two-game series to its regular season.
"They came out ready to go, ready to try to win, to try to get back on track for their team," said Barnes, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
"They were making shots. They played harder than we did. We started off flat."
Barnes has scored in double digits for all five Raptors games this season, including the 119-109 victory over the Sixers on Wednesday.
"They probably went back and made adjustments, try to tweak their game plan," said Barnes. "They came out ready."
Pascal Siakam led Toronto (3-3) with 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. O.G. Anunoby added 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
All-star point guard Fred VanVleet struggled with his shooting all night, going 0 for 11 from field-goal range, including eight missed three-pointers, with his one point coming on a free throw.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said he couldn't explain why VanVleet's shooting was so cold.
"I asked him several times in the game if physically he was all right," said Nurse. "He said that he was every time, but he certainly was out of sorts. There's no doubt about it."
Maxey's explosive performance for the 76ers (2-4) included a career-high nine three-pointers as well as eight rebounds and four assists. His output made up for the absence of all-star centre Joel Embiid, who was a late scratch from Philadelphia's lineup.
"Tonight we knew it was going to be extremely hard without Joel," said Maxey. "That made guys step up, that made guys do things they don’t normally do."
Toronto trailed by as many as eight points in the first quarter, but Siakam made a three-pointer with 4.3 seconds left to tie the game 26-26. Maxey was relentless, however, and his floating jump shot beat the buzzer for his 14th point of the quarter and re-established Philadelphia's lead.
Maxey didn't miss a single shot in the first half, going 10 for 10 on field goals, including seven three-pointers, as the Sixers pulled away to a 65-48 lead by intermission. Siakam led Toronto with 18 points in the half.
Anunoby brought the sellout crowd of 19,800 at Scotiabank Arena to its feet with 4:09 left in the third quarter when his emphatic dunk cut Philly's lead to 70-64. He'd started the play when he stripped Harden just over centre and broke out on his own for the highlight-reel jam.
VanVleet scored his first point of the game on a free throw with 3:04 left in the third. His second free throw rimmed out, though, as his shooting struggles continued.
Toronto guard Gary Trent Jr. scored six points in the fourth quarter to finish with 14 and forward Chris Boucher added five to finish with eight. With the game well out of hand, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse started putting his reserves out.
"I don’t hardly ever do that," said Nurse. "I don’t believe in throwing in the towel."
EMBIID OUT — Embiid was scratched from Philadelphia's lineup 30 minutes before tip-off on Friday because of a sore right knee. A five-time All Star and the reigning NBA scoring champion, Embiid is averaging 27.6 points and 10 rebounds in five games.
OTTO OUT — Veteran shooting guard Otto Porter Jr. missed the game for personal reasons. The 29-year-old off-season signing has yet to make his Raptors debut and head coach Nick Nurse said on Thursday he will be "out for a bit."
UP NEXT — The Toronto Raptors have the weekend off but will return to action on Monday when they host the Atlanta Hawks. They last met last season when Toronto topped Atlanta 118-108 on April 5. Philadelphia will play the Bulls on Saturday in Chicago.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2022.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press