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Raptors Blowout Suns To Open Preseason In Vancouver

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October 6, 2010

VANCOUVER (CP) -- Local hero Steve Nash may have got the loudest cheers in his B.C. homecoming, but Jay Triano's return to Vancouver was far more successful.

Triano's Toronto Raptors held Nash in check, as well as anyone else wearing a Phoenix jersey, and crushed the Suns 129-78 in NBA pre-season action Wednesday night.

The exhibition game before 18,123 fans at Rogers Arena had added meaning for Triano, the lone Canadian coach in the NBA.

He spent many years of his life in the Vancouver area as a star player and coach with the Simon Fraser University Clansmen in suburban Burnaby, as well as Canada's national and Olympic teams.

He also served a radio colour commentator with the Vancouver Grizzlies, who moved to Memphis after just six NBA seasons.

``For me, it had a lot of memories, six years ... and the 41 regular-season games in the league and the rest of the time that I spent here,'' said Triano.

The Raptors played their first exhibition game in Vancouver, although they faced the Vancouver Grizzlies five times in the regular season between 1995-2000 before the team moved.

The game pitted Triano against his former Canadian national team player and close friend Nash, a former two-time league MVP from Victoria. The two embraced before the game, and Nash revelled in the opportunity to play an NBA game on a B.C. court against Triano.

``You couldn't make it up,'' Nash said before the game. ``When Jay was recruiting me to go to Simon Fraser ... I don't think you would have thought 18 years from then he'd be coaching the Raptors and I'd be playing for the Suns and we'd be playing a pre-season game in Vancouver against each other.

``It gives me goosebumps to think about it.''

Nash was limited to nine points in just over two quarters of play, but Triano didn't say he had devised a secret plan to stop him, and noted the Suns might be tired after playing two exhibition game sin two nights.

``He's a very difficult guy to guard,'' Triano said. ``I don't think you do it with one guy ... He's very good and it's early. Back-to-backs early in the season are really tough, especially at this stage.''

It was the first game of the exhibition campaign for the Raptors, who wrapped up their six-day training camp in Vancouver before heading home to Toronto. Phoenix remained winless in three pre-season contests.

Raptors forward Linas Kleiza led all scorers with 20 points in 20 minutes, including four three-pointers. He also added five rebounds and two steals. DeMar DeRozan scored 16, while Joey Dorsey added 13 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

``We told the guys before we had to set the tone,'' Triano said.

The Suns' Jared Dudley scored 10 points while former Raptor Hedo Turkoglu, who was traded in the off-season, scored six and led Phoenix with eight rebounds.

Nash drew the biggest cheers from the fans. But most of among the crowd at Rogers Arena supported the Raptors. Fans booed Turkoglu every time he touched the ball -- and jeered him every time he committed a foul or mistake.

``I can't wait to see (what it's like in) Toronto,'' Turkoglu said with a smile. ``That should be fun.''

The Suns jumped out to an early 15-10 advantage as Nash sank a free throw, courtesy of a Toronto technical for a defensive three-second violation, and then drained a jump shot.

But they were the only three points he scored in the initial period, and the Raptors went on a 14-3 run to lead 24-13 after the first quarter _ and never trailed again. Holding Nash to just two points in the second quarter, the Raptors extended their lead to 55-39 at half-time.

Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry wasn't concerned about Nash's play, noting he only intended to play him about two quarters anyway.

``When it comes time, Steve will be Steve,'' Gentry said. ``Obviously Steve's not going to be sitting on the bench when the game's on the line. No, he's not going to be playing for 22 minutes. Everything changes when it starts for real.''

Grant Hill scored six points for Phoenix in the first half but never got the chance to add more. With just over five minutes left in the third quarter, Hill and Toronto's Reggie Evans were quickly ejected after a collision and confrontation in front of the Raptors bench.

Gentry was less than impressed with his club's effort, especially after the Suns committed 30 turnovers.

``We didn't play well at all and they played well -- you've got to give them credit,'' Gentry said. ``I thought defensively they did a good job of taking us out of everything ... I thought it was disappointing. We have to continue to make progress and, obviously, this is a setback.''

Notes: Nash reiterated his hope that Vancouver will get another NBA franchise. ``I think it would be a great opportunity to correct a misstep,'' he said . . . Suns centre Robin Lopez required five stitches to close a cut over his right eye while Evans received three stitches to close a gash over his left eye. Both suffered their injuries in the first half. . . Phoenix's Channing Frye was not with the team for personal reasons. . . Toronto's Ed Davis sat out due to a torn meniscus ligament in his right knee. . . Several Vancouver Canucks players, including Mason Raymond, Mikael Samuelsson, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows watched the game from courtside. Darcy Hordichuk, appearing jovial after being traded to the Florida Panthers earlier in the day, was in the crowd and came by at half-time to say a quick goodbye to his former teammates.