Sixers rally in fourth to turn back Raptors

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Thaddeus Young reacts after blocking a shot in the fourth quarter.
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Thaddeus Young reacts after blocking a shot in the fourth quarter.
Posted: November 21, 2012

IT'S A GOOD thing 76ers coach Doug Collins is a fan of solving crossword puzzles because the way his team is built, many of the games they play are quite cryptic.

Some nights, the shooting is good, other nights horrendous. Rebounding always seems to be an adventure and after a stretch of giving the ball over quite frequently to the opponent earlier in the season, now the Sixers have become quite stingy.

Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center against the Toronto Raptors, the Sixers, for much of the night, seemed allergic to rebounding the basketball. So in the fourth quarter, with his team trailing by seven, Collins decided to go against the obvious and insert a small lineup.

It worked to perfection as his club outscored the Raptors by 33-18 in the final period in posting a 106-98 win, upping the Sixers' record to 7-4 as they head to Cleveland for a game against the Kyrie Irving-less Cavaliers on Wednesday.

"At that point in time, nothing else was working, so sometimes you've got to keep juggling balls," Collins said. "I'm getting pretty good at juggling. It wears me out a little bit, but it was a great win. We've two or three games that we could have easily lost that we found a way to win. We were down seven going into the fourth but it seemed like 15. Those are the games you have to win. It's interesting, but [of] the five lowest-scoring teams in the NBA, we're the only one with a winning record."

That seventh win was very much in jeopardy as the Sixers just couldn't seem to control the boards at all against the Raptors for the first three quarters. Rookie center Jonas Valanciunas was bothersome all night, going for 11 points and 11 rebounds, and 7-foot forward Andrea Bargnani hit from all over the floor, going for 22 points and 11 rebounds.

That forced Collins to search for a winning combination for most of the night, until he finally found it in the fourth quarter as he went primarily with Thaddeus Young at center, and Jrue Holiday, Jason Richardson, Nick Young and Dorell Wright on the floor for most of the final 12 minutes.

That lineup tuned the Raptors up with 52 percent (13-for-25) shooting, a 14-8 rebounding advantage and only one turnover on nine assists. Thaddeus Young, who finished with 18 points, made all five of his field goals in the fourth and hustled his way to three rebounds, while Holiday (19 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds), dealt five assists in the quarter.

While he has been saddled to the bench most of the past two games and saw little action until the fourth quarter, Wright proved what a valuable pro he is by playing a key role in that final quarter, playing all 12 minutes.

"I've been around for 9 years, so this is nothing new to me," said Wright, who grabbed four rebounds in 14 valuable minutes. "I played for the Miami Heat for a long time and had the same situation, so as long as coach calls my name and I'm ready, that's all I can do.

"I'm just going to stick with it, be a pro, cheer for my teammates. Guys had it going and I'm happy we got a win."

Few had it going more than Nick Young, who dumped in a team-high 23 points off the bench. He also dealt four assists, as he is starting to shed that me-first persona many have labeled him with.

"I felt good," said Young, who left Sunday's game with dizziness. "Jrue was finding people, and we were sharing the ball and just knocking down shots. It just felt good out there. They started double-teaming me, and I just got it to the open man. We were down, like, eight with 4 minutes to go and we just fought. The fans started getting behind us, and that plays a big part. When I see that shot go in for me, I just feel I can make the next one and the next one . . . "

Despite taking a kick to the head, Richardson finished with 21 points and Evan Turner collected 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Collins lamented the fact that his team started slowly again, falling behind by 10 points right out of the gate. He said that he probably will be making a move to the starting lineup, but wouldn't specify. If you're a Sixers fan, you shouldn't worry about it. He seems to have that part pretty well figured out.

" @BobCooney76

Blog: philly.com/Sixerville

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