Suns Attack Glass in Win Over Raptors

Barry Gossage/NBAE

Up until Friday night, the Suns had lived by the production of their guards and died when they couldn’t hold their own on the glass.

Against the Raptors, they flipped the script in convincing fashion, further hinting that this year’s team could be even more well-rounded than many predicted.

Phoenix beat Toronto 106-97, impressing once again with their defense (the Raptors shot 40.2 percent) and perimeter shooting (9-of-23 from three). Yet it was their complete one-eighty from their frontcourt that stood out the most.

Markieff Morris hit his first 11 shot attempts, finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds. P.J. Tucker added a double-double of his own, amassing 18 points and 13 rebounds.

The two forwards’ biggest impact came on the offensive glass, where they snagged six rebounds apiece, besting the entire Raptors’ team total of 11 offensive rebounds.

None was bigger than Tucker’s offensive board with 1:48 remaining. Toronto had cut a 15-point lead to six, and appeared on the verge of making it an even closer affair after a Markieff Morris missed jumper. Tucker snagged the ball and whipped it out to Eric Bledsoe, who nailed a three-pointer from the left side to push the lead back to a comfortable nine-point margin.

“I wanted to get back to the old Tuck,” Tucker said. “I don’t’ want to only shoot threes. I want to mix it up a little bit, get inside the line, offensive rebound ‘cause that’s one of the things I do pretty well. Beginning of the season, I didn’t do a lot of that, so I’m definitely trying to get back to that now.”

The shift is a welcome one for the Suns, who in recent games had been on the losing end of rebounding battles. They appeared done with that habit on Friday, as seven different players snared at least four rebounds to help give the Suns finish with a 53-36 edge on the glass.

“I think they were ready to go for the boards,” Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said. “That’s got to be our biggest advantage of the year, I would guess, at 53-36. Everybody went for them…we boxed out.”

Markieff continued to show a different mode of attack this season, one that has made the three-point shot a last resort instead of the first option. All of his 14 shot attempts came inside the arc, and only one was further out than 17 feet.

“If I’m open [from three], I’ll shoot it, but in the past I was shooting a lot of threes,” Morris said. “I’m trying to work inside-out, staying in the fifteen-foot area. I still work on [the three], just in case they’re sleeping.”

Six different players scored in double figures for Phoenix, which will try for its first three-game winning streak of the season on Tuesday when they take on the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.