Sixers Are Humbled By Camby, Raptors Toronto Controlled Things All The Way. The Sixers Were Never In It.

Posted: March 19, 1997

TORONTO — The suspense is over. With their loss to the Toronto Raptors last night, the 76ers were mathematically eliminated from the NBA playoffs. It was a milestone they had been approaching for the last two months with the inevitability of sunrise.

The Sixers were beaten, 117-105, by a two-year-old NBA team that was athletically superior and emotionally stronger.

``They came out aggressive, and it showed,'' said Jerry Stackhouse, who struggled through a poor night, as did most of his teammates. ``You can't give up 30-point quarters and have anything positive come out of it.''

The Sixers (17-48 with 17 games left) managed to give up 33 points in the first quarter, when Toronto rookie Marcus Camby ripped them for 16, and then, as if to show it was not a fluke, they gave up 33 points in the third quarter.

Camby finished with a career-high 36 points for Toronto (24-42).

``We did not have an answer for Marcus Camby,'' said coach Johnny Davis. ``But we've had problems with Marcus Camby every time we've played him. Camby, more than anybody, hurt us tonight.''

Camby is 6-foot-11. He leaps, runs the floor like a deer, and has a penchant for the flashy dunk. He dropped four vicious slams in a row on the Sixers in the first quarter.

``He's already playing great, but now he's turning it up a notch,'' said Raptors coach Darrell Walker.

For the Sixers, only Derrick Coleman and Allen Iverson showed signs of having played in the NBA before.

Coleman finished with 25 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists. Despite his numbers, Coleman played not at all in the fourth quarter as the Sixers put on a defensive press to spark a late, desperate, futile run.

Iverson had 26 points, 10 assists and did little wrong.

``I can play a lot better than I played tonight,'' Iverson said. ``We had a bad game tonight.''

Iverson was self-critical, saying he had been burned continually by Toronto point guard Damon Stoudamire on the screen-and-roll. Stoudamire finished with 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Iverson also said that despite the disappointments and the mounting losses, he is in no hurry for this horrid season to end.

``I want to play basketball as long as I can,'' he said. ``The losing is tough, but it's fun going out and playing them.''

If Iverson can say he had fun after last night's spectacle, when the Sixers trailed by as many as 23 points, he should be granted a dispensation to move to another team for the playoffs.

Other than Coleman and Iverson, the Sixers were a study in disorganization, mystifying substitutions, matchups that didn't match up, and general confusion.

``For us to be successful we have to have, at best, three of five guys going good and then somebody coming off the bench,'' Davis said.

Clarence Weatherspoon had nine points and 11 rebounds, while center Scott Williams had 11 points and one board. The bench was Mark Davis, who scored 17 of the 19 points that came from the pine.

Despite Davis' protestations, this was a prototypical Sixers' effort. A look at how they did not get it done against a team whose record is only marginally better, is an explanation in minature as to why they are so bad. The bottom line is, as is the story on many nights, Toronto's players are better.

``In their hearts and in their minds, I think they want to get it done,'' Davis said of his team. ``But we don't have the luxury of giving up large leads and then coming back. . . . Too many things have to be perfect in that situation.''

Of course, this being the NBA, the Sixers got the deficit down to nine points in the fourth quarter, before Camby dropped in a shot at the shot-clock buzzer to reestablish Raptors control. It was one of those typical furious NBA charges that looks better in the box score than it really was.

Such deceitful flurries give the losing coach a chance to talk about a late bounce that fell into the wrong hands. It allows the winning fans a modicum of excitement before they leave happy.

But, more often than not, such insignificant sound and fury leaves the losing team exactly where the Sixers were left last night - as losers.

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