Undersized Phoenix Suns exposed by Toronto Raptors


The Phoenix Suns lost the battle of the boards by 19 Sunday and fell to the Raptors by 21. (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

Nobody said preseason basketball was important, but it continually becomes harder and harder to pull positives from the Phoenix Suns’ performances.

It is a learning process for the new-look Suns, but a lot of their weaknesses were exposed Sunday morning in a 121-100 loss to the Raptors in Toronto.

The Suns were murdered on the glass, 57-38, and allowed over 100 points for the fifth time in six games to move to 1-5 in preseason play.

The undersized Suns allowed 24 offensive rebounds and yielded 52 points in the paint. They did, however, have a nice rhythm and pace going in the first half.

Phoenix jumped out to a 33-22 lead after one, leading by as 13 and meshing better than it had through five games (I was able to find a stream and catch some of the game).

Steve Nash had a masterful game with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists in front of the Nash-crazy Toronto crowd.

The starters looked good with Nash running the offense, but Goran Dragic and the bench seem to lack cohesion, playing like five individuals rather than a team.

Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress did score 14 and 12, respectively, but a lot of that came with Nash at the helm. Despite the lack of continuity, the Suns still led 55-53 heading into halftime.

But watching the Raptors turn that deficit into a five-point lead in a matter of minutes proved how much this Suns team still has to improve. Toronto scored at will, pasting 39 points on the Suns in the quarter.

And the most alarming part was that it was against regular rotation players, with the exception of Matt Janning, who played six minutes in the quarter.

Garret Siler did see some time in the second quarter, but only because Channing Frye picked up his fourth foul. So other than Siler and Janning, Gentry went with pretty much regular rotations for the better part of three quarters.

But the Suns couldn’t keep the Raptors out of the paint and off the glass, and showed how hard it is to stay consistent without interior defense and rebounding. Remember all of those huge leads the Suns gave away last season? This year could be even worse.

The Suns gave up 57 rebounds to a team with one legitimate rebounder in Reggie Evans and a power forward that lives on the perimeter in Andrea Bargnani. Just imagine what’s going to happen when this team faces off against the Lakers.

The fourth quarter was a throw-away as it was headlined by Janning, Zabian Dowdell, Gani Lawal and compnay. But there were still some alarming things that came from the game, including another forgettable game by Hedo Turkoglu.

Turkoglu, who was greeted with boos every time he touched the ball, didn’t force any shots and collected five rebounds and two blocks. But don’t read too much into that.

He proved to be nothing more than a stand-still shooter when Nash was on the floor, which is a far cry from the facilitating playmaker Alvin Gentry raved about.

The Suns need to find a better way to use Turkoglu so that his skills aren’t put to waste and it isn’t the Toronto version of Hedo all over again.

All in all, the Suns starters played pretty well offensively pushing the pace and finding open shots. But they once again struggled from three (6-for-22) and couldn’t grab a board or get a stop to save their lives. Phoenix has a lot of improving to do before the regular season tips off in Portland on Oct. 26.

Up next

The Suns will take on the Golen State Warriors at home on Tuesday night at 7. This is Phoenix’s second to last chance to tighten the screws before the regular season begins.

  • Troy

    Looks like we’re in for a long season.

  • Morgan

    I think this could just last season. Last season we ran off on a bunch of wins on bottom feeding east squads. This year we are starting the season of with Portland and Utah away and Lakers and Spurs at home. We could easily be 0-4 out of the gates if we don’t improve on the boards. I think we’ll be ok on offense and the defense and rebounding could come later. It all depends on energy and the desire to win. We did last year and we can do it again this year.

  • Dan

    Maybe Alvin Gentry should start Hakim instead of Hedo. That would give the Suns more of a presence down low and would let Hedo become a play maker for the bench guys.

  • Al

    I agree with Dan. Hakim and Childress are looking like the better additions than Turk right now. I say put Warrick as starting PF. Turk shouldn’t start until he is able to perform to expectations. Hakim and Childress are able to score double digits in less than 20 minutes which is more than Turk or Frye. The second unit could benefit with Turk as the PF, Channing at Center, and Dudley at SF. Sun’s bench big man spot-up shooters would open the lane for Childress to drive to the lane for some sweet dunks over the defenders. The problem with the Suns at the moment is that they are using a 15 man rotation which will be trimmed down to 10 for the last 2 pre-season games. Earl Clark is a bust, Gani lawal will be a bench warmer, either Jones and Siler might be on the team; and I don’t really care whether Janning or Dowdell make the team at this point. It is time to see what the Suns are truly made of when they face the Warriors and Nuggets.

  • Iceman

    Pretty much sums it up AI. The Suns are giving whole quarters to guys who won’t make the team. Good for Gentry to give these guys a real shot in the NBA. Too few coaches let these camp guys get any playing time during the preseason. They can’t say they didn’t get a legit shot.

    I’m not worried because in the regular season, Clark, Janning, Zowdell, and Siler won’t get a combined 48 minutes of game time. I don’t expect anyone listed above other than Clark to be on the team this season and that’s only because he has a contract. As much as I like Lawal, he won’t be getting 12mpg either. That’s 60 minutes of game time that was given to the guys who are dreaming of playing in the NBA and need a shot to do so. But when opening night comes, it’s business.

  • Mel.

    The fact that Phoenix let this one lapse into a massacre late in the game definitely throws the issue of bench reflection into the mix; we struggled with this mightily last year, but the moments of brilliance from our reserve squad acted as a counter-measure to consistent flame-outs.

    I still think Gentry’s got that potential in the current roster, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer that developing that “hockey line” approach is going to mean the difference between the cellar in the West and the middle of the pack.