Both teams played in fits and starts, and it became apparent early on the outcome would be decided in the final minutes. And when it came to gut-check time, the Sixers checked out, unable to get anything more than one free throw after Elton Brand's layup off his own steal with 3 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
"I thought we had some guys do some good things," coach Doug Collins said. "You look at the numbers and we're plus-18 points in the paint; plus-seven on second-chance points; plus-11 points on turnovers."
But the Sixers were a big minus when it came time for a clutch basket.
"You've got to be able to close out games," Collins said. "That's the essence of the NBA."
After Andrea Bargnani tied the score at 85 with two of his game-high 30 points, the Sixers had six possessions and nothing more than a free throw to show for them. There were three turnovers, including one each by their young guards, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner.
"I think we are going to pay our dues and, eventually, we'll get what we deserve," Turner said.
Holiday also missed a runner that would have given the Sixers the lead.
"It seems like we could have pulled it out," said Brand, who scored 27 points. "We get turnovers, and we don't even get attempts at the basket. We were getting stops. We just weren't converting on our end."
It was the fourth straight game the Sixers scored fewer than 94 points, even though they got off 87 shots.
The end of the fourth was the ugliest part for the Sixers, but the rest of the quarter wasn't pretty, either. The Sixers scored only 15 points in the final 12 minutes, shooting 5 for 18 (27.8 percent). They also had five of their 13 turnovers while forcing only one turnover from the Raptors.
The Sixers displayed jitters at both the conclusion of the half and at the end of the third quarter. Each time, they tried to set up for the final shot, but to no avail. They came out of a time-out toward the end of the half, but Holiday turned the ball over. The Raptors couldn't capitalize because they, too, coughed up the ball at the buzzer.
The Sixers' conclusion to the third quarter was just as futile, as they were whistled for a three-second violation before squeezing off a missed shot.
"It goes back to training camp, when I said my biggest concern is close games," said Collins, whose team dropped to 2-10. "We had a couple of opportunities, point-blank shots that we missed, and that was tough."
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.