- Benjamin Gerstel
Suns edge Raptors in bad shooting night 99-95
Phoenix headed into Toronto tonight, coming off of their loss against Miami this Saturday. Their struggles continued, but Toronto struggled enough, which kept them in the game. Both teams shot under 50% from the field and With Cam Johnson out due to an ankle sprain, they were short handed coming into the game, but that’s no excuse for the rest of the team to play the way they did. (14-4 run in the fourth for Phoenix) Toronto missed sharpshooter Gary Trent Jr., and rookie sensation Scottie Barnes tonight.
In the first half, OG Anunoby had a spectacular performance. He was knocking down three pointers, and had plenty of help from Pascal Siakam as well. Spicy P, OG, and Fred Vanvleet (who just won Player of the Week) allowed Toronto to start off on an 11-0 run, setting the tempo for the rest of the game.
For a team that is third in the league in points (112.1 per game), Phoenix’s performance was certainly underwhelming tonight. Especially Devin Booker, who only had 12 points, on 3-12 shooting from the field. That’s his second game already this season with under 15 points. While Miles Bridges struggled from deep, it was his consistent play, along with Jae Crowder and Chris Paul, who kept them within the game all night. Bridges hit his signature mid range fadeaways, delivering for Phoenix when no one else couldn’t early on. The “Point God” dished 12 dimes to his teammates tonight, acting as the catalyst for their offense, when the MVP-caliber Devin Booker struggled.
After winning the second quarter, Phoenix was able to chop at their lead and make it a game. Both teams continued to go back and forth, all the way through the fourth quarter. OG Anunoby continued to elevate the Raptors, hitting a late three and forcing Devin Booker to not only foul, but also turn the ball over. This sparked a 7-0 run in the fourth, but Phoenix continued to fight all night. Monty Williams deserves a ton of credit for keeping his guys in the game and motivated, despite being out-hustled by Toronto.
After knocking down two free throws late, Devin Booker ultimately fouled out. Toronto continued to foul, hoping to get the ball to Fred Vanvleet, who is 4-4 in his last 6 games on clutch three pointers. However, Ayton ultimately iced the game with a late rebound and two free throws, after Toronto fought hard all night. Behind Chris Paul, Miles Bridges, and Jae Crowder, Phoenix was able to make up for Cam Johnson’s absence, and overcome Devin Booker’s poor night from the field. Phoenix as a team simply made more shots, despite putting up 15 less attempts than their opponents. They outshot Toronto from the field, three point land, and from the charity strike. The free throws missed by Toronto likely decided the game, as they left ten points on the board, compared to Phoenix’s 4. In a game as tight down the stretch as this one, those free throws are everything.
Both teams struggled from the floor tonight, which will always happen every now and then. However, if you are a Toronto fan, you have to be pleased with their performance. Albeit snapping a six game winning streak, going against a team that has the best record in the NBA, and only falling short by four. Considering they were without Gary Trent Jr., and former Seminole Scottie Barnes, the game is definitely a positive for Raptors fans. OG had a game-high 25 points, Boucher had a game high 16 rebounds, and Siakam had 22-7-7. The Raptors forced 20 turnovers, and outrebounded Phoenix all night as well. While it may not have been a perfect game, there were plenty of positive takeaways for Toronto.