Game Rap: Raptors 103, Suns 115

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

IT WAS OVER WHEN

a Tyson Chandler dunk put the Suns ahead by nine points with 2:03 remaining. After trailing by as many as nine, the Suns closed the game on an 18-6 run to turn a tied game into a 12-point victory as they handed the Raptors a 103-115 loss. The loss was Toronto’s third straight, marking the first time the team has dropped three in a row since Nov. 15, 2015.

NOGUEIRA RETURNS

Lucas Nogueira returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous two games because of the NBA concussion protocol following an inadvertent shot to the head in Toronto’s victory against the Brooklyn Nets last Wednesday.

LITTLE DEFENCE TO START

Although Toronto led by three after the opening 12 minutes, it wasn’t the kind of start the team had been looking for. Offensively, the Raptors were hot from the jump, shooting 50 percent from the floor as Lucas Nogueira had a perfect shooting quarter, scoring 11 points on 5-for-5 field goals, including a three-pointer. On the defensive end, things weren't so hot for Toronto, as they gave up 55 percent shooting to the Suns who were led by Eric Bledsoe’s 11 points on 4-for-5 field goals, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.

HOLDING STEADY IN THE SECOND AND THIRD

The Raptors stepped up their efforts on the defensive end in the second quarter, managing to hold the Suns below 50 percent after their hot start. The Raptors cooled off a bit, making just 43 percent of their field goals. A 12-point effort from DeMar DeRozan allowed Toronto to maintain its three-point advantage at the halftime break after both teams scored 29 in the second quarter. The Raptors led 60-57 at the half. The third quarter saw shooting percentages dip for both teams, with Toronto making just 37 percent of its field goals. Phoenix connected on 44 percent of its shots, but the teams scored 25 points apiece to again keep the Toronto lead at three heading into the fourth quarter.

ALL SUNS IN THE FOURTH

After keeping it close through the first three quarters, Phoenix found its rhythm and erupted in the fourth. The Suns outscored Toronto 33-18 in the final quarter, Eric Bledsoe leading the way with 15 points on 3-for-4 shooing and 9-for-9 free throws. The Suns as a team shot 56 percent in the fourth, while Toronto managed to convert just 26 percent of its field goals, shooting 5-for-19 from the floor. DeMar DeRozan turned an ankle when he landed awkwardly after taking a jumper with 6:10 remaining and the score tied. The Suns would go on to close the game on an 18-6 run.

RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Jonas Valanciunas had a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double in 31 minutes of action. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor, 4-for-5 from the free throw line and added two assists, a steal and three blocked shots as he helped shoulder the offensive load with the backcourt having an up-and-down night.

UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Lucas Nogueira played 35 minutes in his first game back since missing the previous two contests because of the NBA concussion protocol. He scored 13 points, 11 coming in the first quarter, and he was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor, including 1-for-1 from beyond the arc and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Nogueira added five rebounds, an assist, a steal and two blocked shots.

THAT'S A RAP…

“It’s gotta motivate you. If anything, you’re a true competitor, you hate this feeling. You hate leaving the arena like this. It sucks at night, having it on your mind, having consecutive losses, especially three that you’re not used to having. You’ve just got to come out with that feeling, that hunger, that aggressiveness the next game.
- DeMar DeRozan on dropping three straight

BY THE #’S

52…Points in the paint scored by Phoenix compared to 36 for Toronto.

45…Rebounds for Phoenix, 35 for Toronto.

51…Percent shooting by the Suns, 40 percent shooting by the Raptors.

40…Points, 13 assists, six rebounds, for Eric Bledsoe who shot 11-for-17 from the floor, 4-for-7 from beyond the arc and 14-for-14 from the free throw line in 42 minutes for the Suns.

THEY SAID IT…

“When your shots not falling, you have to make it up on the defensive end and we didn’t do that tonight. We kind of let our offensive woes go to the defensive end and not get stops, not get crucial stops, get the ball under control. I don’t know if we ever to Bledsoe blitzed down the stretch. We tried to blitz him and he got around our whole team. We didn’t find a way when our offence wasn’t involved.”
- Dwane Casey on a disappointing defensive effort

"We've got to keep fighting through. Everybody in the league goes through the same process. ... Everybody plays 82 games, too. You've got to fight through those struggling moments that are coming now, and we've got to keep winning games."
- Lucas Nogueira on a tough stretch for the Raptors

“We gotta play better defence at some point. I think teams are just going downhill, screening us, getting downhill and getting to the basket. We’ve gotta find the ways to make some stops earlier and be more physical, I guess.”
- Kyle Lowry on needing to improve on the defensive end of the floor

UP NEXT:

The San Antonio Spurs are in Toronto to take on the Raptors on Tuesday at 7 P.M. ET.

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Game Highlights: Suns at Raptors - January 22, 2017

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