Suns 113, Raptors 94 -- Toronto torching continues

Steve Nash has owned the Raptors since rejoining the Suns in 2004, and nothing changed this afternoon when Nash led the Suns past the struggling Raptors. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)

Steve Nash has owned the Raptors since rejoining the Suns in 2004, and nothing changed this afternoon when Nash led the Suns past the struggling Raptors. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)

It is no secret that Steve Nash abuses opposing defenses on the regular, but Captain Canada’s 11-0 record against Toronto since returning to Phoenix coming into today’s game was flat-out ridiculous.

Well, the Suns kicked that Toronto domination up a notch today as they once again defeated Chris Bosh and the Raptors, 113-94.

The Suns haven’t lost to the Raptors since Feb. 10, 2004, and one of the only constants during that stretch is none other than MVSteve.

“I wouldn’t trade (Nash) for any guard in the league,” Alvin Gentry told The Associated Press after the game. “The way we play and what we want to do, he’s my guy.”

Nash proved once again why he should be in consideration for his third MVP, as he helped Phoenix defeat the Raptors for the 12th consecutive time.

Nash and the Suns came out of the gates strong, hitting five of their first eight from beyond the arc and outscoring the Raptors 33-25 through 12 minutes of action.

Jay Triano’s squad continuously switched on Phoenix pick-and-rolls and Nash made them pay with a plethora of dimes to Amare Stoudemire, resulting in nine first-half helpers.

Toronto clamped down in the second quarter, holding the Suns to their lowest-scoring period of the season (17 points). With STAT on the bench in foul trouble and the Suns’ offense struggling, Chris Bosh went into beast mode. The lanky lefty dominated the period, scoring 16 points in the second quarter alone. The Suns had no answer for one of 2010′s most intriguing free agents, who finished the game with 30 points and 17 rebounds.

Thanks to Bosh, the Raptors were only down one going into the second half, but a Suns 28-12 run during the first seven minutes of the third quarter took the air out of the Air Canada Centre.

While Nash was unable to get his offense going in the first half — hitting just one of his first six — he scored 11 points in the third and helped give the Suns a 19-point lead with under four minutes remaining in the quarter.

But Bosh and the Raptors fought back, scoring eight straight points and eventually cutting the Suns’ lead to five with 11:03 left in the fourth quarter. The Suns then answered with a 19-7 run of their own, and Toronto was ultimately unable to claw its way back into the game.

While Nash’s 20 points and 16 assists made this offense go, the other Suns starters filled in the cracks with ease. For the fourth time in the last five games the Suns had six or more players in double figures. J-Rich led the way for the Suns with 22 points — including 4-of-6 from three — to go along with nine caroms. Richardson has now scored 20 or more in his last three games.

Stoudemire was equally as impressive, posting an efficient 18 points and seven rebounds on 8-for-10 shooting. STAT was a non-factor during the second and third quarters but really did some damage late in the fourth when the Suns needed it most.

The Suns became the NBA’s first team to 14 wins today and have proven that their hot start is far from a mirage after matching their franchise-best start through 17 games. This is the most well-balanced Suns team that Phoenix has seen in quite some time, and that offensive attack is paying off in a big way.

To be fair, the Raptors have lost seven of their last 10 games and clearly do not have an answer for the Nash-led Suns. And if anyone not named Bosh would have stepped up for Toronto, this would probably have been a much closer ballgame.

The Raptors came into the game shooting 40.1 percent from three — good for seventh in the league — but they couldn’t get anything to go from distance, finishing the game 1-for-20 (5 percent) from behind the arc. While that most likely won’t happen again this season for Toronto, you have to give some credit to the Suns’ defense.

They did a solid job of running out and getting a hand up, especially for a team that had been allowing opponents to shoot 38.4 percent from three, fourth worst in the NBA.  As Gentry has said all season, this team doesn’t need to be one of the league’s best defensive teams, Phoenix just needs to get the stops necessary to win games, and the Suns did exactly that today.

With the offensive pieces the Suns have in place, it is hard to believe that many teams will slow down this offense. Whenever an opposing defense shuts down a Nash and Amare pick-and-roll, J-Rich or Channing Frye will be wide open for a three. When the defense starts to come out and guard the three-point arc, Nash will dissect the defense and feed a hungry Stoudemire or a slashing Hill.

This team simply has too many weapons to be stifled for 48 minutes of basketball. The starters plus LB combined for 102 of the Suns 113 total points today, but even when the starters struggle, the Suns have proven they have the pieces on the bench to step up and fill the void.

The Suns are the only team to post at least 100 points in every game so far this season, and with so many weapons and such a balanced attack, this offense should remain lethal all year long.

And 1

  • Leandro Barbosa sprained his left ankle coming down on Hedo Turkoglu’s foot after releasing a jump shot early in the fourth quarter and will miss at least two games, according to The Arizona Republic. X-rays were negative, but LB estimated this injury could keep him out for as long as two weeks (which would be seven games). Up to that point he was extremely efficient, scoring 17 points in only 15 minutes of play. Suns announcer Scott Williams described LB’s swelling as looking like “elephantitis of the ankle.” Not exactly what Suns fans want to hear.
  • Steve Nash is now averaging a career-best and league-best 12.1 assists per game.
  • The Suns outrebounded the Raptors 48-44.
  • The Suns are now on their third four-game winning streak of the season.
  • After a solid performance against Minnesota, Robin Lopez showed a ton of rust with four turnovers in only six minutes. He looked slow, immobile and never really had a chance to get into the flow of the game.


Jared Dudley checks in with some more locker room footage in the latest edition of JMZ.

  • KJ Loyalist

    Well I guess the only thing to come out of this weekend with some negative sting on it would have to be the fines to Amare and Channing for tweeting.

    Mike, you and the rest of your writers are going to have to leave the boys alone during the game!

  • Kyle Fleeger

    Michael, have you noticed that the Suns are first in ESPN’s power rankings, yet it doesn’t seem there isn’t any national media attention except to point out how unrealistic the suns success continuing is.

  • KJ Loyalist

    Bosh thrives in a system better suited for him to be the man.

    I'm not so sure if he'd have the same effectiveness in our system because he won't get nearly as many touches and Nash isn't going to want to slow things down again to cater to him.

  • Jason Ellis

    Everything I’ve read about the Suns success has been followed with something akin to “..waiting for the other shoe to drop.” I hope the shoe never drops, though. I think the players are having too much fun, and with Nash as the leader, that shoe might never drop.

  • John C.

    Regarding Bosh being better suited for a system where he is the man, I didn't get that impression watching him play against the Suns. Bosh is a more complete player and could play the pick and roll with Nash as well as hit the jumper. Bosh could play down on the block with Frye on the perimeter. Stoudemire is clearly not a max player and I think Kerr would be making a mistake signing him as such.

  • asani

    I know Barbosa suffered a slight injury but he shouldn’t be out for two weeks. I had that same injury and played a couple days later and had one of the best games in my life. Barbosa needs to be there when we meet the Lakers again

  • John C.

    Mike, if Stoudemire and Bosh are both in the same position as potential free agents, I would prefer Bosh. Is a straight up trade a possibility?

  • Michael Schwartz

    @John C, I really don't think so. There's no reason to think Bosh would sign an extension here either, as is certainly the case with Amare in Toronto. I think Bosh would be a great fit here, but he's a player who would be a great fit many places. Not sure if he'd be as ferocious as Amare on the pick-and-roll though, but I think we've seen this year he's not exactly the RuPaul of big men.

    STAT may not be worth max money, but I am of the opinion that the Suns will have to overpay a bit to ensure they don't lose him for nothing ……..

  • Mike Schmitz

    I think Bosh is a slightly better player than STAT, but you can’t really go wrong with either. He shows a lot more tenacity than Amare and doesn’t quite have the Sun Tzu attitude. But Bosh coming to Phoenix is about as likely as Kobe leaving LA, it’s just not going to happen.

    I have been impressed with Amare’s improved defense this season, and his offense is basically where it was when he was healthy last season.

    I truly do believe Amare resigns in Phoenix when it’s all said and done. But of course, that depends on how Kerr handles the situation and what Sarver is willing to give up. He has been here his whole career and loves the city and the fans, but we’ll see how loud the money talks.

  • asani

    I can't believe what I am reading. There is no way in hell that Bosh is better than STAT. Remember something fans, when Amare is in the playoffs he becomes a beast. He gives the big men way too much problems and it wouldn't make sense to have a guy like bosh over Amare. Let's get real he is soft as hell and Amare goes hard in the paint

  • KJ Loyalist

    I think Bosh is a little overrated, not as a player because he is a left-handed beast, but in Toronto because he *is* Toronto.
    His numbers are silly and he gets favor being the only performer worth talking about on that team, but I don’t think he thrives the way Amare does in the Suns system.

    Also, I don’t think Bosh’s jumpshot is superior to Amare’s. Bosh also would take time building an on-court relationship with Nash.

    I keep Amare everytime. The Suns have a habit of giving up their best players and it’s about time we changed that thinking. Sarver needs to put the money out there but Amare also needs to understand that he should take a bit less so that the team can remain strong in other areas.

  • The Z. Man

    LB is hurt.

    They say now 4 weeks????

    Suns need more minutes from him. Not zero. Will cost us huge.

    MUST start and ALSO finish with

  • The Z. Man

    LB is hurt.

    They say now 4 weeks????

    Suns need more minutes from him. Not zero. Will cost us huge.

    MUST start and ALSO finish with LB. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

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