Leonard, Ibaka Missing as Raptors fall to Philly 126-101

Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers weren’t too excited after their latest win.

Embiid had 27 points and 11 rebounds. Ben Simmons added 26 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as Philadelphia routed the short-handed Toronto Raptors 126-101 on Saturday night.

JJ Redick added 22 points for the 76ers. Philli pulled within 2 1/2 games of first-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division.

Pascal Siakam scored 26 points. Kyle Lowry added 20 for the Raptors, who slipped to 25-10. Toronto played without two-time defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard, as well as Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas.

And it’s the absences that had Embiid downplaying the victory.

“It was a good win, but to me, it doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

Embiid scored 23 of his points in the opening 24 minutes.

“They really had nothing to stop him in the first half,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said.

Leonard was held out of the lineup to rest on the second game of a back-to-back after scoring a season-high 37 points in the Raptors’ 126-110 home win over Cleveland on Friday night. Toronto coach Nick Nurse said prior to Saturday’s contest that Leonard may be available for the second game of a back-to-back going forward.

Ibaka missed his third straight contest with a sore right knee, while Valanciunas is sidelined for at least three more weeks after having thumb surgery. Lowry and Danny Green returned after missing time with injuries. Lowry sat out the last four contests with a sore left thigh and Green watched Friday’s win with a sore left knee.

It was Philadelphia’s third victory in the last 23 games against the Raptors.

The 76ers, though, would’ve liked it to come against a full contingent.

“I was disappointed, too,” said Simmons, whose point total was a season high.

The Raptors led by as many as seven in the opening half and were within range entering the break trailing 65-59. But the 76ers took advantage of Toronto’s many missing players in the second half, methodically pulling away.

“A little too much for us tonight,” Nurse said. “We just didn’t have enough.”

Philadelphia led by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter.

In spite of being one of the premier teams in the league, Toronto isn’t one of the 10 clubs being featured on Christmas, something Nurse admitted was disappointing.

“I think it’s a marquee day to play,” he said. “I think our team would’ve liked to play.”

Before Saturday night’s 126-101 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, which Leonard sat out after scoring 37 points in 32 minutes Friday night in Toronto in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Leonard could begin playing both halves of back-to-backs next month.

“I think we are there,” Nurse said. “I think after we get here to the new year, we’ll be there.

“No promises, but I think we’re there.”

Saturday night was the ninth time in 35 games that Leonard sat out. Five of those absences have come as part of what the team has deemed “load management” as he continues to recover from the left quad tendinopathy that kept him sidelined for all but nine games last season when he was with the San Antonio Spurs.

Raptors are at Miami on Wednesday.

Peace,

Burke

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