By Peter Gleason
Jimmy Butler had a huge game and just like that the Sixers took the home court advantage against the Raptors and snapped a losing streak in Toronto.
Butler had 30 points and 11 rebounds, James Ennis scored 13 points and the 76ers held on to beat the Raptors 94-89, evening their East semifinal series 1-1.
If the series goes to the full seven games, three of the remaining five are in Philly.
It was Philly’s first win in Toronto since Nov. 10, 2012, snapping a 14-game losing streak.
”Everybody wants to paint the picture that we haven’t won here in however many years,” Butler said. ”I’m just glad that we came out on top. We don’t care how many games we’ve lost, nothing like that.”
Butler scored 12 in the final quarter to help the 76ers withstand a late Toronto rally.
”He was just a tremendous rock,” coach Brett Brown said. ”He willed us to a lot of different situations. He was a stud.”
Butler scored just 10 points in Game 1, when he shot 4 for 12.
”Jimmy Butler is a gamer,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. ”He wasn’t going to be quiet this whole series.”
Game 3 is Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Down 19 in the first half, Toronto cut the deficit to one late in the third, only to go cold to start the fourth, missing six of its first seven shots.
The Raptors kept coming, however. Kyle Lowry made 3-pointers on both sides of a pair of foul shots by Butler cutting it to 90-87 with 1:36 to go. Toronto got the ball back, and Siakam scored on a layup to make it a one-point game, but Joel Embiid answered with a driving shot at the other end, restoring the three-point advantage with 24 seconds left.
After Lowry nearly turned the ball over, Danny Green missed a potential tying 3, and Tobias Harris came up with the rebound, his 11th. Harris was fouled and sealed it by making a pair with 3.9 seconds left.
”We got lucky there at the end,” Brown said.
Joel Embiid scored 12 points in 32 minutes despite missing the morning shootaround because of flu-like symptoms. Brown said Embiid received intravenous fluids before the game.
”Full credit all over the place to Joel,” Brown said.
Embiid acknowledged feeling rough, but refused to sit out.
”There’s no way I was missing this game,” he said. ”This game was really important to us. It doesn’t matter what I had, I was going to play.”
Kawhi Leonard scored 35 points, Siakam had 21 and Lowry 20. Toronto shot 10 for 37 from 3-point range and 33 for 91 overall as its franchise-record five game postseason winning streak came to an end.
”We didn’t play well tonight,” Lowry said. ”They played really desperate and played super hard tonight and they got a victory.”
Toronto missed six of its first eight shots, matching the number of misses it had in the first quarter of Game 1, when the Raptors made 16 of 22. Toronto shot 7 for 24 in the first and missed its first seven from 3-point range before Norm Powell connected.
Butler scored six points for a 26-17 lead after one. Toronto got 17 from both Leonard and Siakam in the first quarter of Game 1, when they scored 39 points.
Ennis and Butler each scored seven points in the second and the Sixers led 51-38 at the half.
Leonard scored seven more as Toronto used a 13-4 run out of the break to cut the gap to 55-51. Leonard had 11 points in the third and Siakam had seven. Toronto trailed 61-60 with 2:50 left in the quarter but Embiid made four free throws before the quarter ended and the 76ers took a 69-63 lead to the fourth.