Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
One step forward. Two steps back. The Phoenix Suns kept themselves close throughout the game, but were outplayed in the closing minutes by the (now) 4-13 Toronto Raptors.
The Suns got off to a quick start fueled by the play of Marcin Gortat and Goran Dragic. Toronto seemed complacent and content shooting long twos, which allowed the Suns to extend the defense to the perimeter. The Suns were able to build a 10 point lead, but coasted in a little bit and led 25-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Toronto came out with renewed vigor in the second quarter and scampered off a 21-11 stretch to take a 40-36 lead (25-11 going back to the first quarter). Jared Dudley scored 11 points in the first half of the second quarter to keep the Suns afloat as the Raptors made their surge. The Suns flipped the script at this point with an 8-0 run of their own as the rest of the quarter was tightly contested. The player of the half was Toronto's DeMar DeRozan (16 points on 5-9 shooting). Six late points by him coupled with a buzzer beating three from Kyle Lowry helped Toronto pull within one at halftime (52-51).
Lowry and Dragic started to go after each other a little bit in the third, but the player who caught my eye was Michael Beasley, who seemed much more assertive and aggressive in the quarter (and the game). He finished with eight points in the quarter, which could have been more if he could make free throws. A back and forth third quarter once again ended in catastrophe as DeRozan hit an and-one as time expired to give the Raptors an 80-76 lead and him a game high 23 points.
The Suns just couldn't seem to catch up in the fourth, pulling within one at 96-95, and again at 98-97 with 1:07 to go after a Shannon Brown layup. Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson (a fearsome duo indeed) kept the Suns at bay and the Suns couldn't execute down the stretch when they had opportunities to win the game. Dinos triumph 101-97.
Player of the Game:
DeMar DeRozan led all players in points (23) and rebounds (8). He was more effective in the first half, but still had a solid all-around game and was instrumental in the Dinos W. I feel confident that a Sun will eventually earn this honor in a game that I cover this season.
Comments of the Game:
But a road game against the Raptors.....actually a pretty even matchup.
If games like these are fun for Suns fans, then we have some masochists.
I knew this season was going to be a roller coaster ride, I just want to see the Suns at least play with some heart and pride and I will be happy with the end result regardless of the record at the end of the season.
Yet still, he does things that make me say, "that boy's not right" in a Hank Hill voice.
seriously I'm so sick of this team not having a go to guy
The Sun definitely came out more spirited in the first half. After an abysmal effort on Wednesday at least they showed up. They might not be world beaters this year, but a team that quits is unacceptable. There was no standout player, but across the board the players seemed more invested.
Beasley was engaged and effective in stretches. The Suns need some kind of production from him this season, and this was closer to what that may look like.
Dudley made an appearance and chipped in with 14 points off the bench while providing a spark in the second quarter. A consistent effort from JD3 has been something that has been conspicuously absent this season. Hopefully games like this will help him round into form.
The Suns kept it close the whole way and gave themselves an opportunity to win. Anytime a team does that on the road is an encouraging sign (the lugubrious fan writes about a good loss). I copied this verbatim from the Philadelphia game. It damn near felt like the same game (except this may be even more demoralizing considering the competition).
The tempestuous nature of the Suns starters and bench continued, as it seems both units can never show up on the same night. The inconsistency is maddening.
Buy some Windex. The Suns managed just four offensive rebounds on 40 attempts en route to losing the battle of the boards to Toronto 41-34. Offensive rebounds tend to be a hustle stat, so take it for what it's worth...
It's getting to the point where we might want to concede that the Suns are just flat out one of the worst defensive teams in the league. The defensive field goal percentages have become more of a nightly massacre than something to keep an eye on. Toronto was 20-38 from the field (52.6%) and 4-7 from three (57.1%) in the first half. It didn't get much better as Toronto finished at 48.1% for the game including 57.1% (8-14) from three. Just. Simply. Pathetic.