PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Elton Brand scored 22 points, Thaddeus Young had 20 and the Philadelphia 76ers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 98-93 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.
Andre Iguodala scored 16 points for the Sixers, who could still finish sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers had already clinched their first playoff apperance in two years. With 41 wins and two games left, the Sixers can finish with a winning record for the first time since 2004-05. They went 41-41 two years ago.
The Sixers are not in postseason form with time winding down to get ready for a bullish battle against Miami or Boston. They blew a 15-point lead against a Toronto team long out of postseason contention. They missed four straight free throws in the fourth that had an eight-point lead cut to two.
Jerryd Bayless kept the Raptors in it with a 3-pointer with 28.5 seconds left that pulled them to 96-93. Toronto snagged Iguodala’s missed driving layup, and set up one last play out of a timeout.
Bayless shot an airball to end the threat.
Raptors forward Reggie Evans was whistled for a technical late in the fourth after arguing a no-foul call. Coach Jay Triano also was hit with a ‘T’ and was ejected for arguing the same play.
Jodie Meeks made 1 of 2 free throws for the Sixers to make it 88-80. The Sixers were 23 for 31 from the line – the kind of performance that could cost them in a tight playoff game.
The Sixers are clearly missing Lou Williams. The reserve guard was an energetic scoring force off the bench. He was fourth on the team in scoring with 13.7 points when he was lost for the rest of the regular season with a strained right hamstring. He was hurt last Saturday and the Sixers don’t know if Williams can return for the first round.
Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, gobbled the minutes devoted to Williams and scored 10 points. Turner and Young were the only Sixers reserves to play more than 3 minutes.
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 27 points and Bayless had 24. Ed Davis scored 14. Raptors forward Sonny Weems left the game in the second quarter with a sore right knee and did not return.
The Raptors played the first half like a team that couldn’t wait for the season to end. They missed 14 straight shots over the first and second quarters, dribbled the ball off their feet and passes were sloppy.
Brand led the Sixers early and Iguodala’s jumper midway through the second put them up 33-18.
Down 54-42 at the break, the Raptors finally got their game together. The Raptors found their touch and made 12 of 18 shots in the third. Bayless’ 3 with 21 seconds gave the Raptors a 72-70 lead.
Young, though, ended the third with a three-point play and Iguodala opened the fourth with one of his own.
They overcame the poor free-throw shooting and missing eight of 11 3-point attempts to give their win total – and confidence – an overdue boost.
NOTES: The Sixers and Raptors finished the season series tied 2-all. … Young and Williams have helped the 76ers lead the Eastern conference in bench scoring (39.4) this season. … The Sixers entered shooting 77 percent from the free-throw line.
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