Phoenix Suns 121, Toronto Raptors 113 – Good morning, Victory

The wake up call came a bit earlier than usual for the Phoenix Suns, but it didn’t seem to phase them at all. The Suns rolled out of bed and into a shootout with the Toronto Raptors, grabbing the 121-113 win in exciting fashion.

There are a great deal of positives to discuss from this game, not the least of which is Phoenix sitting just one game back of both Dallas and Memphis for a playoff spot. Eight of the ten Suns who saw playing time scored at least nine points. Overall, the team shot nearly 51% from the field and hit 11-of-23 from three. Goran Dragic had 19 points in just 33 minutes. Eric Bledsoe got to the hoop with impunity, earning himself 10 free throws and hitting everyone of them. But the real story offensively was the bench. The Phoenix reserves outscored the Raptors’ bench 59-11. Markieff Morris had a great game netting 16 points on 50% shooting and grabbing a game-high 14 boards. His brother Marcus chipped in 10 and hit two timely triples. But the shining star off the bench was Gerald Green. Gerald hit his first five shots in the first quarter, helping Phoenix claim a 37-35 lead after they had trailed by as many as nine points. Green then, in true streak shooter fashion, proceeded to miss his next eight shots before hitting his final four buckets and helping the Suns close the game out at the free thrown line. Gerald finished the night with 28 points in just 27 minutes.

Defensively Phoenix was led by P.J. Tucker. Tucker put the manacles on DeMar DeRozan, the NBA’s ninth leading scorer. P.J. held the Raptors’ shooting guard to just 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting and forced DeRozan into a team-high three turnovers. Tucker’s defense was the spark that helped turn the momentum for Phoenix in the third quarter. Tucker forced turnovers on three straight possessions leading to eight points thanks to technical fouls on DeRozan and Toronto head coach Dwane Casey. That sequence gave the Suns their biggest lead of the game and put the pressure on Toronto. All of Toronto’s starters scored in double figures, but the Suns kept up with the frantic pace, and took complete advantage of the Raptors’ bench players when they were on the court.

This was an important win for the Suns as they try to break back into the playoff race in the Western Conference. For more on this game, let’s answer our three preview questions.

How does Phoenix adjust to the early start time?

Phoenix was just fine playing at 10 am Arizona time. The Suns overcame an early Toronto lead by shooting 64% from the floor and hitting seven triples in the first 12 minutes. The only guys who didn’t look ready for the early start were the referees. Monty McCutchen and crew had an uneven game to say the least. Their performance drew the ire of both sides as the game went on. In the first, the referees whistled the Suns for seven personal fouls while the Raptors were whistled for just two. In the second, both teams were whistled for seven. After halftime, the crew  evened things up by whistling Toronto for 12 personals and two technicals in the third, while Phoenix was called for just five fouls. Ultimately the whistles evened themselves out, but at no point in this game were the refs calling it both ways. The refs gave the Raptors a boost in the first and spurred the Suns in the third. Phoenix took full advantage of their whistles, however, hitting 34 of their 38 free throws.

Who wins the battle of former teammates?

Kyle Lowry might be the most frustrating player to guard in the NBA. He isn’t blessed with incredible athleticism, but what he doesn’t have in hops, he makes up for in toughness and tenacity. He penetrates and draws contact better than any point guard in the game. The former Rocket led his team with 28 points and 13 assists. Lowry went to the line nine times. Dragic, on the other hand, had a quieter game with 19 points and only four assists. Lowry certainly won the battle, but his team lost the war.

Lowry had a scary moment with about a minute left. During a loose ball scramble with P.J. Tucker and Bledsoe Lowry took a blow to the head from Tucker’s knee. He laid on the ground clutching his head for a few moments before receiving medical attention from the team doctors. He went to the bench initially, but returned to the game immediately after a Toronto timeout seemingly no worse for the wear.

Does Alex Len see an increase in minutes?

Not really. Len played just under eight minutes in this one, despite the fact that Miles Plumlee played just 16 minutes himself. While the announcers were still buzzing about Len’s contributions against Boston, he didn’t earn any extra minutes. The fast pace of the game dictated that the Suns go small and run. Len grabbed two boards and missed his only shot.

The one advantage of the early start is that it will give Phoenix added time to get to Brooklyn where they take on the Nets tomorrow night.

Tags: Gerald Green P.j Tucker Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Recap Toronto Raptors

  • DZ

    Now if the Thunder take care of Dallas in OKC tonight, the Suns can win in Brooklyn and Boston can upset Dallas in Dallas tomorrow, that would leave the Suns 1/2 game up on Dallas in the 8th spot. I don’t expect things to happen this way but I’m hoping and pulling for OKC tonight and Boston tomorrow.

    And of course the Suns in Brooklyn! Every game is a “must win” game for the Suns for the rest of the season.

  • vtsunrise

    I only caught two-thirds of the fourth quarter. Not sure what the fraction is, but it was almost nail-nibblingly good. Glad it turned out well.

    Seeing both sides of the loose cannon that is Gerald Green, I am thrilled that the Suns have both his offensive explosiveness and PJ Tucker’s nail-down defensive tenaciosity.

    I predict that IF the Suns make the playoffs, they will give us a bloody damn good show.

    Shake it up baby. Twist and shout. Heart and soul.

  • tank

    Tucker should be suspended again. Knee to head is worse then Blakes play.

  • foreveris2long

    What a quality win against a team who had been hot at home and had just knocked off Memphis. Good game by Plumlee in very limited minutes. Tucker, Green and Markief were huge today. Finally an excellent game at the free throw line. Great way to start the day.

  • EBJM

    Hey Tank, maybe Lowry shouldn’t put his head where it doesn’t belong?

    Going into the stretch run Tucker is going old school and is not taking any prisoners.

    Most disturbing is skinny PF Amir Johnson doubles his season average with 20. Who was guarding him for most of the game? Was it Frye?

    I’d much rather see Alex Len get some burn than watch Frye. Raptors are winning with Jonas Valanciunas at center and he is only 21 years old. Give the kid some burn already!

  • EBJM

    Seventeen percent?

    Word of the day: tenaciosity

    How would you define tenaciosity VT?

    A consistently high level of tenacity that can be considered an intangible attribute of a tenacious player like Tucker whose name is now synonymous with tenaciousness?

    Words that make you go hmmmm…..

  • vtsunrise

    “Tenaciosity” is T to the power of 3. With it on your side, anything is possible, even the invention of newer, more powerful words that defy or De-Frye definition.

    It is the type of tenaciousness that makes opponents tremble and makes referees blow their whistle too quickly and without regard for fairness or even-handedness. That is how powerful and truly frightening Tucker is.

    Think of a human pit bull on quadroids.

  • Kyle

    Great game, but in no way were the calls even. In the 3rd, I counted 7 consecutive possessions that resulted in a call favouring the Suns… not to mention the knee to Lowry’s head that didn’t even signal a review.

  • EBJM

    VT, you make me laugh!

  • EBJM

    It was a loose ball! The refs saw Lowry’s head make contact with Tucker’s knee, not the other way around!

    Just like when former Suns center Joe Klein’s nose made contact with Karl Malone’s elbow! Players need to know when to keep their head out of the way of dangerous objects!

  • DZ

    With Westbrook and Sefolosha out, Dallas is hammering OKC. So much for my hopes of closing the gap between the Suns and Dallas for the 8th spot in the playoffs… for now.

  • EBJM

    Kyle Lowry on P.J. Tucker:

    “PJ’s not a dirty guy, I’ve known him for a while. He even apologized after the game … He’s a strong dude, so it hurt.”

  • foreveris2long

    Hopefully Portland knocks Golden State off tonight. Portland is winning by 10 or 11 near the end of the 2nd quarter.

  • Rengaw

    Great to see Bledsoe drawing fouls and getting to the line since he has come back. With Dragic and Markieff doing likewise, we can get the other team in the penalty a lot quicker.

  • foreveris2long

    Rengaw, great point. Without a dominant low post player we need to draw fouls by slashing to the basket.

    Well so much for thinking Portland could help us. They blew an 18 point 3rd quarter lead and lost to the Warriors. Portland has really struggled lately. We just need to keep winning.

  • vtsunrise

    Yes, “We” do, forever.

  • Luka

    This was a fun game to watch for the most part. Gerald Green and Marcus Morris were on point early. Is Green out version of JR Smith? A guy who can light up the scoreboard yet make boneheaded plays that leave you scratching your head. I was laughing at some of the jumpers he made late in the game. But you have to give him credit and his confidence.

    The Suns let Toronto hang around by once again giving up too many points in the paint. Plumlee I thought was playing like a knucklehead out there today.

    PJ was a beast out there today. I’d definitely say he earned player of the game, and yet the box score won’t really do his hustle justice.

    At least we know the Suns hustle is back again. Just keep winning because the Grizzlies eventually have a tough stretch here vs the Pacers and the Heat. This could be the Suns chance to vault into 8th if they take care of business the next several games.

  • CTGuy

    Tucker should be suspended again. Knee to head is worse then Blakes play.


    Don’t be silly…Tucker intentionally punched Blake, while the knee to the head was an accident when they were both going for a loose ball

  • foreveris2long

    VT, Yeah sometimes I lose my mind thinking I am playing. Good catch. That is funny stuff.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    Len and Plumlee need more minutes together than Plumlee and Frye

    our weakness on the boards will come back to haunt us sooner or later

  • vtsunrise

    Hey, forever, We forgive you!

  • Dan S

    @Luke I think Green’s closer to Crawford than JR, who’s a complete goof. I still don’t understand how OKC got smashed at home by Dallas, but they’re playing like crap lately..i guess they miss Sefolosha and Perkins alot?

  • john

    Yeah, the comparison to JR is a little off because of the antics off the court. Green doesn’t seem to be having problems. JR is ALWAYS having problems. On the court, I feel like Green isn’t nearly as prone to shoot his team out of a game, but he’s just as capable of shooting his way to a victory. I’d go more for Crawford than Smith, but I don’t know if any comparison for Green is all that good. He’s a different beast altogether than virtually anyone I can think of.