After a huge win that saw the Raptors close it out with a full 48 minutes, this was a frustrating defeat that seemed all but assured after the first quarter. Both teams swapped buckets to start, but the precision passing of Steve Nash and some vintage Vince Carter quickly resulted in a 9-0 run that seemed to shake the Raptors' confidence for the duration of the evening.
The Raptors were doubled up the rest of the way in the first 24-12 as they repeatedly turned it over, get outworked on the glass and gave the Suns plenty of time and space to hit four of their six three-pointers.
It may be time to stop the reflexive booing of Vince Carter at ACC. People are entitled their feelings about him, but it was glaringly obvious on Friday that the boos fueled him to a potent performance. Carter heard it from intros onward and replied with 11 points, four rebounds and four steals in the first quarter alone on his way to 17 points, seven boards and a career-high six swipes.
"We sensed it in the layup line when he was doing windmills," said Grant Hill post-game. "I'm like 'We haven't seen that.' He's feeling good and obviously you want to play well against your old team."
On a night where far too many Raptors seemed to get down on themselves after falling behind early, credit Andrea Bargnani for fighting through it with another strong performance offensively. Bargnani was dropping shots from all over the places on his way to a 12-for-15 night from the floor and a game-high 26 points.
After late-January swoon, he's been lights out offensively in February -- averaging 25.6 points per game to sit seventh in the league for the month and boost him up to 15th overall on the season.
"We try to figure this out. Is it the youth? Is part of that youth and the growing of this team feeling too good about playing a game against Chicago and thinking you can just waltz in here and play? It’s the NBA and if you are half a step slow or a half a step less prepared mentally for a game, you are going to get exploited and that happened in the first quarter."
- Jay Triano, on youth being a factor in the first quarter
Sun., Feb. 27 vs. Mavericks
6PM, Sportsnet One, FAN590
The Raptors move on to face another potent Western Conference foe in the Mavs on Sunday night, but can at feel somewhat confident that they can beat this club. The Raptors were badly undermanned in Dallas back on Dec. 28, but a monster game from rookie Ed Davis lifted them to a huge 84-76 win. The Raptors have won two of the last three meetings at ACC.
|28-11||Fast break point favouring the Suns|
|13||Consecutive losses for the Raps vs. the Suns. Their longest active losing streak vs. an opponent|
|21||First-quarter deficit for the Raptors, their largest of the season|
|14-7||Second-chance points favouring the Suns|
|5||Consecutive games the Raptors have held an opponent under 50 per cent shooting|
|"They’re a good team. They know how to play and they know how to space the floor and everything worked out pretty good for them. We couldn’t do anything."|
- Leandro Barbosa on falling behind early
|"Although Steve (Nash) didn’t shoot the ball well, you can see how he can have total control of a game without being a scorer."|
- Suns head coach Alvin Gentry on Steve Nash
|"They’re a really good team on the fast break; they shoot really quick, seven or eight seconds to shoot the ball, so they were scoring. We were not ready to play, that’s it. That can’t happen."|
- Andrea Bargnani, on the loss