The Phoenix Suns fall to the Toronto Raptors 98-71, due to bad play all across the board for the Suns.
In the first period, Marcin Gortat had eight easy points, but then as a foreboding foreshadowing of things to come, hurt his foot with 34 seconds left in the quarter and headed to the locker room. According to the Suns’ official Twitter feed, “X-rays on Gortat’s right foot were negative.” From there things got worse.
All that has to be said is that the Raptors outscored Phoenix in each of the four quarters of the game. The Suns only led by a couple points early in the game, and Toronto was up by 30 points in the final minutes.
“I don’t see one bright spot to take from that game other than it being over, ” said Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter after the game, according to the Suns official Twitter feed.
The Suns offense was non-existent in this game. They never scored 25 points in any of the quarters and challenged the franchise low in points in a game which is 68, only beating it because of a Marcus Morris three-pointer.
One glaring problem that reared its ugly head was turnovers. Phoenix had a dismal 29 turnovers that the Raptors capitalized on for 39 points, making it very difficult for any team to win when they shoot themselves in the foot like that.
It was pretty much a miserable game for all involved on the Suns side of the ball.
“It’s not only one or two guys, it was a team thing,” said Suns point guard Goran Dragic after the game.
You know its bad when Marcus Morris, one of the youngest players on the team and one of the newest acquisitions leads the team in scoring with 12 points. 12! Points were just too hard to come by in this game, despite the Raptors not being a great defensive team.
However, on Toronto’s side, everything was clicking. The Raptors had six players in double-figures and were able to sit the starters for a while, so that four of those six players were from the bench.
For the starters, DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points and Jonas Valanciunas added 10. Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry both only had five points as they played significantly less minutes than usual as did Andrea Bargnani, who finished with nine points.
From the reserves, four players made contributions that helped their team come out of the desert with a huge victory. Amir Johnson scored 14 points, while Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross both added 10. However, the most important was former Sun, Sebastian Telfair. Telfair scored 13 points off the bench in 27 minutes including three makes from behind the arc, seven assists, four steals, and a +22 plus/minus (which measures the team’s net points while the player is on the court).
The Brooklyn native got his revenge for being dealt to a lottery team mid-season to give Kendall Marshall (and to a lesser extent Diante Garrett) more minutes. Telfair expressed his bitterness at having to leave his family to play so far away in Toronto in a recent interview with KTAR 620 Arizona Sports writer Craig Grialou.
The Suns did a poor job of defending the three-point line, giving up 11-24 for 45.8 percent from downtown, which is unacceptable. In terms of overall rebounding, the teams tied at 40 boards apiece and Phoenix even had a bigger percentage of the rebounds be on the offensive end. The problem was that Toronto was shooting over 10 percent better from the floor (48.1% -37.8%), so there weren’t as many rebounds to be had.
The Raptors did a good job of coming out strong in the early going, up by four at the end of the first quarter, stretching the lead to 14 by halftime. Also, their defense (or Suns lack of offense) was stellar, as Phoenix only scored 71 points, instead of the 106.6 that they usually give up per game.
The first quarter wasn’t as indicative of the game as the second or third quarters, when Toronto blew the game wide open. Additionally, Gortat was a factor early, but after his injury, the Suns couldn’t get anything going, and with such a big lead Bargnani didn’t even need to stay in the game.
This loss was good for Phoenix’s own draft position come the 2013 NBA draft. However, it was disastrous pertaining to the pick the Los Angeles Lakers owe us. L.A. went on a huge run to beat the New Orleans Hornets, the Cleveland Caveliers beat the Utah Jazz, and the Dallas Maverick beat the Houston Rockets. Now Kobe and the Lakers are 1.5 games out of the eighth spot and 2 games out of seventh in the Western Conference playoffs.