Phoenix three’s the difference

The Toronto Raptors began their 4-game road trip on Wednesday night in Phoenix against the Suns. It was the most balanced performance by Toronto’s core starters all season. Despite a strong outing, it was the Suns made 3’s that made the difference, winning 123-115.

Devin Booker led Phoenix with 24 points. Jae Crowder went 6 for 9 from deep with 21 points, tying his career best in made 3’s in a single game. The Suns shot a blistering 52% from beyond the arc, which was the difference in tonights game. Off the bench, Cameron Johnson and Dario Saric combined for 31 of the benches 42 points.

Pascal Siakam had his best start of the season. He led all players with 32 points and 9 rebounds on 52.4% shooting. It was his best shooting night since March 2020 and his best night getting to the line. In his last 5 games, he attempted 15 free throws in over 150+ minutes of action; he was at the line 14 times against Phoenix.

His performance was a stark contrast to the Siakam we have seen all season and in the bubble. He was aggressive on both ends of the floor and the trickle affect of his confident play was evident. OG Anunoby, who has also struggled, put up 20 points on 80% shooting. Kyle Lowry was solid, with 24 points and 9 rebounds. His leadership and hustle was on display, as he out-rebounded both Toronto bigs in the loss. Fred VanVleet had a quiet 13 but dished 7 assists on the night.

Despite a solid start from the starters, the bench continued to struggle. They were outscored 42-26. For the Raptors to have success they will need help from their supporting cast. Norman Powell and Chris Boucher put up 22 of the teams 26 bench points. Nick Nurse has kept the rotations tight early in the season. There has been little wiggle room for guys like Matt Thomas and Paul Watson. However, with the Nurse still “evaluating” the 5 position and the rotations off the bench, look for guys to have more opportunities to get into the game.

Game Notes: Aron Baynes has had a rough start with Toronto. In his last 2 starts he has had 0 points, 0 assists, 0 free throws and 0 blocks. What does Nick Nurse do with with his centre position?

Next up… Toronto travels to Sacramento to face the 4-4 Kings. Tip off is 10pm EASTERN.

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