Not too many teams can hang with the Miami Heat, but the Philadelphia 76ers made it a game in last night's loss in South Beach.
A day late and a dollar short, however, is not good enough, as the Sixers continue to lose ground in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference playoff race, and look to bounce back at home Wednesday versus the Toronto Raptors from Wells Fargo Center.
LeBron James was a thorn in Philly's side during a 99-93 victory, leading the charge with 41 points on 15-of-25 shooting. Miami was even without fellow superstar Dwyane Wade because of a sore left knee, while the 76ers were led by Evan Turner's 26 points. Lou Williams netted 18 off the bench in his usual reserve role for Philadelphia, which has alternated wins and losses over its last nine contests.
Sixers All-Star forward Andre Iguodala left the contest in the third quarter with a left eye injury. He was poked in the eye by Heat guard Mario Chalmers as he was trying to strip Iguodala of the basketball along the left wing. Iguodala had 11 points, five rebounds and two steals, and should be ready for Wednesday's matchup with Toronto.
"I thought my eye was gone," Iguodala said of the injury after the game. "It was hurting really bad. I had a really bad headache for about 10 minutes. I didn't know what happened because when you get hit in the eye, you think it's worse than what it is...It's gotten a whole lot better since it happened."
Who knows if James would have scored that many points had Iguodala, a defensive specialist, not been injured? Doug Collins' squad is 9-15 since opening the shortened season with a 20-9 mark and will shoot for a fourth straight win at home. The Sixers have lost eight of their past 15 home games after winning 12 of the first 14 (19-10 overall).
Philadelphia sits seventh in the conference standings -- 1 1/2 games behind Atlanta -- and is also 1 1/2 games in back of surging Boston for the Atlantic Division lead.
The Raptors just went 3-2 on a five-game homestand and hope to put the brakes on a three-game road losing streak tonight.
Toronto has won two straight and three of four games, and recorded a 92-87 win versus Charlotte last night in the finale of the residency. Andrea Bargnani scored 30 points, including the final nine for his team, and DeMar DeRozan added 20 points.
"We did a much better job on defense in the second half," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. "We [played] hard and Andrea had some big shots late."
Linas Kleiza logged 18 points off the bench in the win.
The Raptors are 8-18 away from Canada and lost the first meeting with Philadelphia by a 97-62 score on Jan. 7 at Wells Fargo Center. The two teams will meet again April 11 up north. The Sixers have won three in a row in this series.