The Toronto Raptors knew they were gonna be in for a tough matchup against the Phoenix Suns after an emotional buzzer beater win in Washington last night. The Suns were riding a 4-game losing streak heading into tonight’s game against the Raptors. No matter who’s suiting up for the Suns, their system never changes – so the Raptors expected to be in an uptempo battle. The Raptors were playing on the second night of a back to back so they naturally looked sluggish early on as the Suns came out ready to heave from beyond the arc.
It was one of those games where the Raptors kept having to dig themselves out of a hole. The Suns would make their runs to get a slight lead, and the Raptors would keep clawing back with miraculous runs of their own. However they just couldn’t seem to get over the final hump with the Suns edging them out 107-102. The Raptors had a chance to tie the game at 105, however Eric Bledsoe blocked a Luis Scola 3-point attempt with just 0.2 seconds left before getting fouled.
The Raptors will be able to get some rest as they won’t suit up again until Wednesday when they hit the road against the Atlanta Hawks.
This was a game you’d expect the Raptors’ offence to struggle, however they were able to keep pace with the Suns. Neither team shot particularly well from the floor but the Raptors still managed to put up 102 points on 44% shooting. DeMar DeRozan led Raptors in points and assists with a line of 29 & 7. The Raptors’ bench did very little in comparison to that of the Suns bench, however they were key in the final push that almost allowed the Raptors to steal the game. James Johnson provided great energy and Patrick Patterson hit big back-to-back 3’s – still waiting for Terrence Ross to join the party.
When the Raptors play the Suns, very little defence is ever played. The pace of play was in favour of the Suns all night, and the Raptors played right into their hands. The Suns put up 94 shots and capitalized on their second chance opportunities. The Raptors didn’t look like they were all there on the defensive end. The likes of Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic were torching the Raptors’ bigs combining for 36 points off the bench. The uptempo game was just too much for the Raptors to handle as long shots led to recovered second chance opportunities leaving the Raptors’ defence scrambled and out of position on far too many occasions to recover in time.
The Raptors were out-rebounded 50-43 by the Suns tonight. Kyle Lowry and Bismack Biyombo both had 8 rebounds to tie for the Raptors’ leader on the glass. T.J. Warren for the Suns led all players with 11 rebounds on his way to a double-double off the bench. It was essentially the 13-8 edge on the offensive glass that gave the Suns those extra possessions to win the game.
Game Ball: P.J. Tucker
Game ball could’ve very well went to Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe for his huge 20 point and 11 assist game. However the game ball goes to former Raptors’ draft pick P.J. Tucker for his toughness down the stretch to get some major 50-50 balls as well as his defence on DeRozan within the final two minutes. Tucker finished with 5 points and 5 rebounds. Players like Tucker are often overlooked in today’s game – so this one is for you P.J.