Phoenix Suns 107 – Raptors 102: Out of gas


The Raptors needed contributions from everyone to defeat a desperate Suns squad, but they didn’t get them.

The Toronto Raptors, playing their second game in less than 24 hours, were hanging around as the clock ticked down. The first team had returned to the floor after an extended break, and a five-point deficit seemed within reach. Indeed it was, and the home side nosed ahead. But the visitors refused to fold, and Raptors mistakes mounted.   Bismack Biyombo set a pick too aggressively and was whistled for an offensive foul (in fairness to Biz, this was a dubious call). Cory Joseph, intent on racing to the basket, forget to actually catch the pass being sent his way, and the ball slipped out of bounds. The killer was Luis Scola taking too long to line up a potentially game-tying 3-ball with two-tenths of a second to play. We’ll never know if the shot was going in, because pesky guard Eric Bledsoe made a clean block from the backside and was fouled. His free throws were the game’s final points. Toronto, which had snatched an improbable victory from Washington the night before, didn’t have another miracle up its sleeve.

This game was decided by the second units. Phoenix received crazy-good shooting from Mirza Teletovic, missing just one of seven long balls he tried. John Leuer, who’s never done anything noteworthy in my viewing before, scored 16 efficient points, including two aggressive and impressive power-dunks. T.J. Warren, who I warned you about in my preview, made a double-double (15 points, 11 boards).

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By contrast, Terrence Ross went donut, again. His two attempts at 3-balls were not close; the shots looked like attempts by someone picked from the audience trying to win a new car (pace detail freaks – he’s listed as taking 3, but one was a heave at the buzzer). James Johnson, who came off the bench to slow down Teletovic, had 8 points in limited use.

Nov 29, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe (2) goes to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) at Air Canada Centre. The Suns beat the Raptors 107-102. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The battle of the starting backcourts was won by our side, but the efforts of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (29 points) weren’t enough to overcome the deficit created when they sat down. And they needed their rest; this game was as tough and intense as any I’ve seen recently. Bismack’s bad hands were evident on offense, as usual, but they served him well defensively. His four blocked shots were spectacular, and he wrestled the bigger Suns to a draw.

Coach Dwane Casey, well aware of his team’s fatigue, allowed Lucas Nogueira to play almost six minutes. He didn’t look out of place, and even managed an uncontested slam off a DeRozan feed. There were other odd combinations on the floor, as Casey searched for a group which would allow his studs to get their rest without falling too far behind. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Next: Are Raptors for real, or just lucky?

Putbacks: I spent some time watching Markieff Morris and didn’t like what I saw. He looks like a man punching a clock; i.e., delivering minimal effort, and with no passion…the halftime show was Albanian folk dancing, which I admit was a first for me…Bledsoe’s block of Scola was his third of the game, and he had five shots of his own blocked