Quote of the night “Can’t tell if that’s Andrea Bargnani or Dwight Howard.” Quite fitting considering that’s what ultimately got Toronto the W down the stretch. The Raptors(4-13) bested the Phoenix Suns(7-10) in a Friday night match-up that went right down the to the closing seconds but it was Toronto that was able to pullout the victory to snap their 6 game losing streak.
The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan who scored a game high 23 points, and also pulled down a game high 8 rebounds. Kyle Lowry scored 15 points and dished out 7 assists for Toronto and his back-up, Jose Calderon scored 13 points and dished out 9 dimes off the bench; Amir Johnson also added 16 points off the bench.
The Suns got great contribution from nearly every player who played with the exception of P.J Tucker who probably had one of his worst games of the season against the Raptors tonight. Marcin Gortat led the way for Phoenix posting 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks; Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley each added 14 points.
The Suns began the game strong. The Suns behind Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat who each scored 8 points in the opening period. Phoenix had control of the game in the opening period as they led 25-15 after a Brown lay-up with 2:33 left in the 1st quarter but the Suns would go scoreless rest of the quarter and led 25-19 after one.
It wouldn’t take too long for Toronto to erase the Suns lead as they did so at the 6:41 mark in the 2nd quarter after a Terrence Ross shot and the Raptors led 38-36; after a Kyle Lowry prayer at the buzzer heading into halftime the game was just about neck and neck as the score was 52-51 in favor of Phoenix after a long 3-point heave by Lowry was answered.
The third quarter was just as competitive as the first two. The Suns led Toronto 74-70 with 2:25 left after a Marcin Gortat jumper but it was once again Toronto who closed the quarter strong as they went on a 10-2 run in the final 2:25 of the 3rd quarter that was capped off by a DeRozan 3-point play with 0.3 left in the quarter.
It was the team from across the border that came into the 4th quarter guns and blazing as Toronto began the quarter on a 7-2 run capped off by a Amir Johnson 3-point play and the Suns found themselves trailing 78-87 with 9:03 left in the contest.
Jared Dudley would then answer the bell for the Suns as he responded with a 3-pointer on the following possession, and after a Terrence Ross miss at the other end, Sebastian Telfair would draw a foul and go on to make 2 free throws to close the gap to 83-87 with 8:32 to go however the Raptors would keep the Suns at bay for pretty much the rest of the game.
It was a lay-up by Brown with 2:33 left in the ball game to cut the score to 95-96 in favor of Toronto. Amir Johnson then responded with a ferocious fastbreak dunk after a Dragic turnover with 1:44 left in the game and the Raptors pushed the lead to 3 with the score set at 95-98.
Brown would then make another lay-up off an assist by Jared Dudley with 1:07 left in the game to once again cut the Raptors lead to one. The Raptors would then turn the ball over after a miss-communication between Lowry and former Sun Mickael Pietrus and Phoenix had possession with 51 seconds left in regulation down by 1.
The Suns would then have not one, not two, not three but four chances to tie or take the lead with 51 seconds left in the game and they just couldn’t do it. Marcin Gortat had a put back lay-up roll out, and Brown just couldn’t get a whistle from the refs after he got hammered on a drive to the basket for what would’ve been the game tying lay-up with 4 seconds left.
It’s tough to give the Suns a hard time for tonight’s loss as Toronto had a lot of things that went their way tonight, between the Andrea Bargnani’s lock down defense late in the game, and the two 3-point baskets that came at the buzzer of the 2nd and 3rd quarter, it really is to fault this Suns team.
The Suns did a great job moving the ball tonight against Toronto as they had 28 assists on 37 field goals as a team. The Suns shot 48% from
the field and shot exceptionally well from the foul-line shooting nearly 90% as a team.
The Suns will be in New York on Sunday to square off against the Knicks, and for the first time since 2005-2006, I won’t be at Madison Square Garden to watch the Suns and Knicks play; how unfortunate. Unfortunately for the Suns their win streak in Toronto does indeed dissappear along with Steve Nash. The Suns had not lost in Toronto since Jan. 24th 2004, that’s 106 months ago, that was back when I was in the 4th grade.
The Suns will look to bounce back against New York on Sunday as their road record now falls to 2-7 and they have now lost 2 games in a row and 6 of their last 10 games.