After a rough start in the first quarter, the Raptors found themselves down by 11 points, but they seemed to flip the switch defensively from the second onward and outscored the Suns 99-67 the rest of the way.
Late in the third is when the Raptors really took over. After a Steve Nash jumper brought the Suns within four points, a 14-5 run to end the frame put Toronto firmly in control and on their way to leveling their preseason record at 3-3.
Linas Kleiza showed off his entire game in a game-high 35:22 minutes of work on Sunday. He scored a game-high 23 points in typically efficient fashion (nine-for-15 shooting), with eight rebounds and four assists, including a long alley oop pass for Sonny Weems.
We also saw more of Kleiza back smaller defenders down and finish with some great touch around the rim in this matchup. The versatile forward presents an intriguing post up option for Jay Triano this season against smaller, quicker opponents.
Rebounding was a big plus for the Raptors on Sunday thanks in large part to Amir Johnson. The forward was a force on the offensive glass, grabbing seven of his 11 total rebounds at that end of the floor and, as a result, scored 17 points on eight-of-nine shooting -- largely on the strength of put backs.
"He goes to the glass and he's going to get rewarded for that," head coach Jay Triano said of Johnson post-game. "That's the type of thing we need, and that's his best game so far."
"At the beginning of the game they made a bunch of shots early on, where we got a little bit discouraged, and we can't do that. We fought through it today, which we didn't do the other night, so I was pleased with that and I thought our energy from that point on was very good. We got down 13 at one point and guys fourth back and we did it with good defence; it had very little to do with our offence"
- Jay Triano, on the Raptors' energy vs. the Suns
Wed., Oct. 20 vs. CHI. 7 PM ET
|GAME NOTES: |
The Raptors aim to avenge one of their worst defeats of the preseason in their next to last exhibition game against the Bulls at Air Canada Centre. The Bulls took it to an unorthodox Raptors starting five on Oct. 12 in Chicago, with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah having big nights. Expect a Raptors rotation much more akin to their regular season version in this one.
|100||Number of field goals attempted for Toronto|
|109.7||Points per game for the Raptors through six preseason contests|
|4||Number of times Reggie Evans has tied or led the Raps in rebounding this preseason|
|57||Total rebounds for the Raptors vs. 38 for the Suns|
|13||Biggest lead of the game for the Suns in the 2nd quarter|
|"The offence kind of came to me. I was on the offensive boards a lot and the other team was kind of beside [me], so I really stressed getting to the offensive and defensive boards"|
- Amir Johnson, on what the coaches want from him
|"Well, it wasn't as bad as Vancouver."|
- Steve Nash, on Hedo Turkoglu's reception
|"You constantly have to identify yourself with who you are in this league and that allows us to establish a style we want to play."|
- Jarrett Jack, on the effort needed each night