Jan. 24, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) reacts on the court while playing against the Toronto Raptors during the second half at the US Airways Center. The Raptors defeated the Suns 99-96. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE.

Game Preview: Phoenix Suns(7-9) vs. Toronto Raptors(3-13)

Mar. 23, 2011; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Jose Calderon (8) makes a pass against the Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley (3) at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

The Phoenix Suns are fresh off one of the biggest losing margins in franchise history against the Detroit Pistons in a game which they lost 77-117; third to be exact. The Suns got absolutely embarrassed by a less than mediocre Pistons team that had won just 4 games on the season heading into the game against the Suns.

The Suns will look to regain some of their pride and dignity against another less than mediocre team in the Raptors on Friday night. The Raptors have lost 6 games in a row and are struggling. Much like Detroit, the Raptors seem to be underachieving. Toronto finished last season with a 23-43 record, however with a young roster, the addition of Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields, rookie Terrence Ross, and Jonas Valacunias the team seemed to heading for a bright future; that has not been the case.

Toronto will be without swingman Landry Fields, and Alan Anderson on Friday night as they are listed out on the injured list. Toronto forwards, Amir Johnson and Andrea Bargnani are listed as day to day. The Suns have no one on the injured list.

Heading into tonight’s game the Suns are the underdogs by 2.5 points according to ESPN.com. This would be a very ideal game to bounce back on after that despairing embarrassment that took place in Detroit. The Suns have not lost a game in Toronto since the signing of Steve Nash in the summer of 2004 with their last loss coming on Jan. 24th 2004 against the Raptors in Toronto however as you know Nash is gone and there’s a chance that the Suns winning streak in Toronto will be gone along with him.

Keys to the game: Suns

– Take intensity to another level! This Suns team isn’t exactly soft but their not the bullies on the block neither. These guys need to go out there tonight and show some heart, and fight as a team which was complete absent from this group last Wednesday at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Jan. 24, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley steals the inbound pass from Toronto Raptors guard Jose Calderon (8) during the second half at the US Airways Center. The Raptors defeated the Suns 99-96. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE.

– Hound them defensively, plain and simple. This Raptors team is far from an offensive juggernaut however they can still drop 110 points on you on any given night because they have some talented offensive weapons. This entire Suns team just need to take a page out of Sebastian Telfair’s book and just become defensive hounds all night long. Again! Show some heart guys! C’mon!

– Second chance points! This Raptors team is ranked 20th in the league in rebounds per game, the Suns big men absolutely HAVE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE.

Keys to the game: Raptors

– Get the crowd into it early. This Suns team are far from 100% mentally from that blowout in Detroit, if the Raptors can make some exciting plays early, gain control of momentum and get their crowd into it, it can become a good night for the Raptors.

– Get out and run! The Raptors have some terrific athletes on their team, mainly in DeMar DeRozan and rookie Terrence Ross. Both guys can get up their and both guys have a good touch from outside and with two points guards like Lowry and Jose Calderon, they have no reason to play a halfcourt game especially because defense isn’t their strong suit.

The X-Factor

– X marks the spot. Both teams have been floundering offensively. The Raptors despite their talent on offense are 17th in points per game this season while the Suns are 13th. So it really just comes down to which team can properly execute on offense, both teams have the weapons but which one of these squads will figure out how to use it?

Match-up of the night!

– Goran Dragic vs. Kyle Lowry obviously! Dragic was Lowry’s back-up in Houston, after Lowry suffered an bacterial infection Dragic took over the starting point guard spot and Lowry never got it back which is the reason why Lowry is in Toronto today and not Houston. The whole Dragic situation made Lowry’s relationship with Houston sour and now he’s in Toronto…I’m sure Lowry has some bitter feelings towards Dragic for that taking place, whether Dragic directly or indirectly caused it or not. It’ll be a good match-up to watch for since both guys do indeed have similar playing styles although Dragic is a bit more flashy where as Lowry is more of a ground and pound type of guy.


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