Notebook: Raptors 101, Suns 97

Posted Nov 30, 2012 10:57 PM

By Josh Lewenberg, For

THE FACTS: The Toronto Raptors (4-13) exorcised their fourth-quarter demons, snapping a six-game losing streak in a 101-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns (7-10) at the Air Canada Centre Friday night. DeMar DeRozan had a game-high 23 points on top of his eight rebounds for the Raptors while Amir Johnson scored 16 off the bench.

The Suns are now 1-3 with two games remaining in a season-long road trip. Five players scored in double figures for Phoenix led by Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown and former Raptor Jermaine O'Neal, each with 14 points. Goran Dragic had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists while Michael Beasley added 12 points to go along with six assists.

Toronto got off to slow start, shooting just 35 per cent and trailing 25-19 after the first quarter. Jose Calderon led the team's second-quarter run coming off the bench. Calderon finished with 13 points and nine assists while starting point guard Kyle Lowry scored 15 and added seven rebounds.

QUOTABLE: "They're all about fundamentals. They're not huge things, they're little things. Getting a stop at the right time, getting a rebound at the right time, knocking a free throw down, knocking [down] a wide-open jump shot at the right time. All those things are little, but they come [with] experience -- getting the confidence, keeping the confidence throughout tough times and not letting frustration set in."

-- Raptors coach Dwane Casey on his team's progress

THE STAT: Toronto's bench helped the team recover from their early deficit when they engineered a 21-9 run midway through the second quarter. Rookie Terrance Ross scored all seven of his points during that run. The Raptors' bench outscored Phoenix's second unit 46-36 in the game thanks in large part to the contributions of Calderon and Johnson.

TURNING POINT: With 1:47 remaining in the game and the Raptors leading by one, Andrea Bargnani forced Dragic into making a bad pass leading to a crucial turnover. The miscue resulted in an uncontested fast-break dunk by Johnson and the Suns were unable to steal the momentum back.

QUOTABLE II: "Well, we got what we wanted, we just didn't quite get it into the basket. You can read into it whatever you want. I thought we wanted to take the ball to the basket to see if maybe nothing else we could get to the foul line. I liked what we did down there, [but] obviously, we just have to complete those plays and get it in the basket."

-- Suns coach Alvin Gentry

HOT: Johnson played the entire fourth period for the Raptors, scoring half of his 16 points in the quarter. Toronto's energizer was a game-time decision after turning his right ankle in Wednesday's loss to Memphis but played 30 minutes on Friday, shooting 7-for-12 from the field.

NOT: Luis Scola had scored in double figures over the previous four games. On Friday, the Suns sixth man struggled with his shot, going 4-for-13 from the floor, scoring just eight points and committing four fouls in 29 minutes of action.

GOOD MOVE: Bargnani was also a game-time decision for the Raptors, having missed Wednesday's game with a sore left ankle. Although he had a rough night offensively, scoring just four points on 1-for-4 shooting, Casey chose to stick with his 7-footer down the stretch. Bargnani made three crucial defensive plays in the final two minutes of the game, and grabbed a big rebound with three seconds left leading to the free throws that iced the victory for Toronto.

NOTABLE: Both teams were looking to bounce back after coming off their most lopsided defeats of the season on Wednesday. The Suns lost 117-77 in Detroit, while the Raptors fell 103-82 in Memphis. ... The Suns had come into Friday's game having won their previous seven in Toronto. The Raptors' victory was their first home win over Phoenix since an 83-73 game on Jan. 4, 2004. ... Lowry and Dragic were teammates in Houston from 2010-2012. Originally the backup, Dragic started the final 26 games for the Rockets last season after Lowry was diagnosed with a bacterial infection. Dragic averaged 18.0 points, 8.4 assists and 1.8 steals as a starter in 2011-12. ... O'Neal played 41 games with Toronto in 2008-09 and Suns forward P.J. Tucker was drafted by the Raptors in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft. ... Prior to the game, the Raptors announced the signing of free agent Mickael Pietrus on Friday morning. To make room on the roster, the team waived forward Dominic McGuire. Pietrus played 31 minutes in his Raptors debut, scoring six points.

UP NEXT: For the Suns, Sunday @ New York, Tuesday @ Memphis, Thursday vs. Dallas. For the Raptors, Monday @ Denver, Wednesday @ Sacramento, Friday @ Utah.