Suns Can't Stop Raptors in Second Half
Posted: Oct. 17, 2010
TORONTO (AP) - This preseason has been an exercise in getting to know each other for the retooled Phoenix Suns. And with just over a week left in the exhibition schedule, they're still getting comfortable with each other.
Linas Kleiza scored 23 points, Jarrett Jack and Amir Johnson had 17 apiece and the Toronto Raptors beat the Suns 121-100 in a preseason game Sunday.
Sonny Weems added 16 points for Toronto, Andrea Bargnani had 15 and DeMar DeRozan 14.
Steve Nash led Phoenix with 16 points, adding a team-high seven rebounds and six assists, as the Suns lost for the fifth time in six preseason games.
After losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals, Phoenix added Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick over the summer, and saw Amare Stoudemire leave for the New York Knicks.
Nash said building team cohesion is the biggest task facing the Suns in the eight days left before they open the regular season at Portland on Oct. 26.
"We've got a lot of new guys and trying to fit them in is going to take time,'' Nash said. "We like to play a certain way and I think it's an adjustment for the new guys. We have to find that cohesion because that's what makes us successful, understanding our spots and our spacing.''
Hakim Warrick scored 14, Jason Richardson and Josh Childress each had 12, and Grant Hill added 10 for Phoenix, which has dropped three straight since beating Dallas on Oct. 9.
Suns coach Alvin Gentry said he's confident his starting five will be ready for the regular season, but the bench players may need longer to fit into their roles.
"Our bench was a huge strength for us last year,'' Gentry said. "Right now we don't have a combination of guys who are playing very good. We have to work out a situation where our bench is playing better or we're going have to shorten the rotation until we feel comfortable.''
The Suns have allowed 100 points or more in all five of their preseason defeats.
"Our defense was a huge part of our success last year,'' Nash said. "If we want to get back to the playoffs and hopefully challenge for a championship, our defense has to be really good. We're not there yet. We've got a lot of work.''
Bargnani had struggled with his shooting in Toronto's first five games, going 16 for 64, but was better Sunday, making five of his first six and finishing 7 for 12 from the field.
Raptors forward Reggie Evans had 12 rebounds and Johnson had 11 as the Raptors outrebounded the Suns 57-38.
Toronto trailed by 11 points after one quarter, but closed the gap in the second, outscoring Phoenix 31-22 and getting within 55-53 at the half.
The Raptors kept it up in the third, shooting 15 of 29. DeRozan scored eight points and Jack had seven as Toronto took a 92-79 lead into the fourth quarter.
Turkoglu, traded from Toronto to Phoenix this summer after one disappointing season with the Raptors, was booed during pregame introductions and every time he touched the ball. Turkoglu, who scored five points, jokingly booed fans sitting courtside as he checked in at the scorer's table during the second quarter.
"I didn't get much love when I was here, too,'' Turkoglu said. "It's normal, now I'm not here, to get the boos.''
Toronto beat Phoenix 129-78 in its preseason opener, Oct. 6 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Nash said the boos for Turkoglu were louder in that game. Gentry agreed.
"I think it was a lot tougher in Vancouver,'' Gentry said. "I don't know if word travels all the way across Canada or what, but they were pretty tough on him in Vancouver.''
NOTES: Raptors C David Andersen (sore back) did not play. ... Haywoode Workman, an eight-year NBA veteran who played 13 games for Toronto in the 1999-2000 season, was part of the officiating crew.
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