By Lewis Gould
Kyle Lowry had 20 points, Kawhi Leonard finished with 24 points and the visiting Raptors held off the Sixers 119-107.
Philly native and Villanova alum Lowry seemed unfazed by a report that Toronto had offered him to Memphis as part of a trade package for Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
“I personally want to be in Toronto,” Lowry said. “I’ve never asked for a trade. My goal is to try to win a championship here, and that’s what I want to do.”
Serge Ibaka also had 20 points to help the Raptors overcome the Joel Embiid-led Sixers.
Embiid had 37 points and 13 rebounds for his league-leading 44th double-double, while Ben Simmons scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler had 18.
With the Sixers trailing by 18 early in the fourth quarter, Embiid ripped off 12 points in a three-minute stretch to slice Toronto’s lead to 108-101 with 6:59 left and get the home crowd on its feet for the first time all night. But the Raptors (39-16) never let the Sixers (34-20) get closer than seven.
“Offensively, defensively, they were just better than us,” Embiid said. “But I’m proud of our effort in the second half.”
After erupting for 40 points in the first quarter behind 11-for-11 shooting from the free-throw line, the Raptors built a 21-point advantage midway through the second quarter. Lowry, who missed Toronto’s last game due to back soreness, fueled the run with three 3-pointers in a two-minute stretch.
“He was awesome,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “You know, that’s Kyle in a super-focused game. He took his 3s, he took his deep ones, he took some drives. Whenever you see him pull that little slam-on-the-brakes, spin-to-the-left fadeaway, you know he’s in the game right.”
Lowry added another 3, which bounced all around the rim before dropping in, four minutes before halftime to help Toronto take a 72-55 lead into the break — the Raptors’ best offensive first half of the season.
“I love playing at home,” Lowry said. “My mom’s in the building. It’s different.”