The Suns had yet another awful first quarter, then later somehow gave up seven points on a single possession to the Raptors as Josh Jackson got ejected for a bad flagrant foul. On the road. Against the second-best team in the East.
So you might be surprised to hear the Suns had a lead in the final two minutes? Why yes. That actually happened.
But then the Raptors raptored. Pascal Siakam drew a foul made the free throws to tie it, then Kyle Lowry got a very physical throw-TJ-to-the-floor-while-grabbing-the-ball steal and Serge Ibaka made a hook shot to give the Raptors the 109-107 lead.
Mikal Bridges tied the game with a pair of free throws, 109-109, with 13 seconds left, leaving the Raptors with a chance for the final shot.
That just set it up for Pascal Siakam to make a driving left-hand layup at the buzzer to win. The Raptors had cleared the floor, sending Ibaka to the far corner, and given Siakam the ball way outside the three point line. Siakam drove left on Bridges. Ayton, who started out outside the paint, slid too late to help. Kelly Oubre stayed on his man in the corner. Ayton contested without fouling (and free throw would have won the game too), but Siakam got the scoop shot long lefty layup up from outside the paint as the buzzer went off. All Ayton could do was drop his jaw in disbelief.
Devin Booker had a very good one, finishing with 30 points and 8 assists, but had 6 turnovers as the Raptors focused all their energy on trapping him.
Deandre Ayton had 15 points and 17 rebounds, plus a pair of blocks and assists.
Kelly Oubre Jr. had 18 points and 9 rebounds, but shot only 3/15 from the field in a difficult non-foul-call shooting night attacking the rim.
Mikal Bridges had his best game in a while, with 15 second half points plus 6 rebounds and 4 assists. He made a clutch game leading-three, then later got a huge rebound and tied it on ice-cold free throws with 13 seconds left. That’s your ideal Bridges right there.
Next up: Charlotte.
Potential MVP Kawhi Leonard did not play for the Raptors, while everyone else did.
For the Suns, Jamal Crawford sat out again with a sore knee.
The Suns got out to yet another bad first quarter, this time more on the bench guys than the starters, as the Raptors closed the final five minutes of the quarter on a 19-9 run to take a 32-20 lead. The Suns offense just went cold again, missing two footers all the way to 25 footers, with missed free throws in between.
The Raptors lead ballooned a bit in the second on the auspices of former Sun Greg Monroe before the Suns came back to pull within 46-39 on a quick Kelly Oubre Jr. and Devin Booker run.
They held their own the rest of the quarter, closing the Raps lead to 57-49 on last-second free throws by Oubre.
Best of the half:
- Deandre Ayton: 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block
- Devin Booker: 15 points, but not assists and only 1 rebound
- Kelly Oubre: 10 points and 5 rebounds
The Suns shot only 38%, and had only 7 assists on 18 made shotes as they played a ton of iso-ball, with Booker setting the tone from the get-go.
For the Raptors, eight different players scored 3+ points on their way to a 60% shooting half, with 15 assists on 24 made shots.
Raps up 57-49 at half.
The Suns started the second half hot, on an 11-2 run and even had a chance to take the lead but Melton and then Bridges missed open shots while the Raptors’ Danny Green and Kyle Lowry made theirs.
Deandre Ayton ate up Serge Ibaka all game, getting up to 15 points and 14 rebounds a couple minutes into the half.
The Suns didn’t let up, though, and had another chance at 65-64 to take a lead but Ayton was fouled under the basket before going up and Bridges missed a three again.
Bridges FINALLY made a three to tie it at 67-67, but the Raptors followed with a 6-0 run to get a comfortable lead back.
Here’s the thing: the Suns are always trying to take the lead with rookies, while the Raptors actually converted scores with long term vets Green, Lowry and Ibaka.
The Suns FINALLY took the lead at 76-75 when Richaun Holmes made a free throw after getting fouled by Monroe, then stretched it to 78-75 on an 11-2 run.
End of three: Suns up 78-77.
The fourth quarter was crazy messy, with the Suns and Raptors playing weird, open-floor, loose-ball basketball. Unfortunately, this is where the Suns can go real bad and bad it got.
The Suns began arguing calls on every play (yes, it looked like the Raptors got away with a lot of contact while getting easy whistles on their own end), culminating in a flagrant foul on a dunk equating to a SEVEN POINT possession.
88-87 Raptors lead becomes 95-87 when Josh Jackson commits a flagrant foul on Chris Boucher on his made dunk. The flagrant gives the Raps two shots and the ball, which they convert to the max with a three by Lowry. Seven points. Wow. Oh, and Jackson was ejected for the flagrant.
Sure the Suns had a lot to complain about, but you probably don’t want to give the other team seven points on a single possession.
But the Suns did not go quietly into that good night.
They pulled back to 95-93 and then traded scores for a while, but it just kept feeling like the Raptors veterans would pull this out. Ibaka, Lowry and Green started scoring each time down, orchestrated by Lowry, as the Suns were countering with their 3-rookie starting lineup while Oubre got a break (was only 3/14 from field anyway).
The game went back and forth the rest of the way until Pascal Siakam won it at the buzzer.