It was hardly pretty. The Raptors offence misfired often, with turnovers and missed jumpers piling up. But the Suns scored just twice on their final nine shots, including one possession where Bargnani kept point guard Goran Dragic in front of him, causing a key turnover. On another play, Bargnani ably defended the crafty Luis Scola.
It was only the club’s fourth win from 17 games. A gruesome five-game road swing out west looms. But you have to appreciate the small moments in a season like this, and coach Casey is a, “Hey, are those roses?” type of guy.
“You’re daw-gone right we do,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said when asked if the team needed something good to come out of the Suns’ game. “But I don’t think Phoenix would agree with that.”
A series of strange things happened. Andrea Bargnani, useless on the night and benched for most of the second-half, was re-inserted for defensive purposes, and absolutely shut down anyone he guarded. (I’ll give you a second to get up off the floor here to continue reading…ok…go.)
It’s only one game and no one is going to confuse the Mickael Pietrus signing as a massive game changer, but I liked what I saw tonight. Pietrus seems to have a savvy veteran presence about him, and whether it was calmly executing inbounds plays under Suns pressure or just being in the right spot on defence or for a timely rebound, he brought something to this game that the Raptors are usually lacking. I also liked the fact that the Suns were respecting his corner three-point threat, which spaced out the offence nicely in the second half.
Head coach Dwane Casey didn’t expect to give Pietrus a lot of floor time, but he earned it and was able to make a significant contribution, even though he said he didn’t know any of the plays.
If there is one certainty in the NBA, it’s that a winning locker room is a happy locker room. After defeating the Phoenix Suns 101-97 to snap a six-game losing streak on Friday night, the Toronto Raptors were in good spirits. The victory came at the perfect time, too. The team will head out on the road Saturday for a five-game west coast swing that tips off Monday in Denver.
“It feels good. It feels good,” the French forward said in melodic English. “That was a great moment for me when they cheered for me. “And they’re going to see more from Pietrus. Yes.”
Camera pans to Armstrong and Devs in the booth and I am reminded of Jack Armstrong’s glorious handlebar moustache, although I’m not sure if that’s an actual moustache or if a weasel has decided to hibernate on his lip for a month. Or an ermine, seeing as it’s turning white. Animals rock.
I don’t want to gloss over the fact that Phoenix lost to an Eastern Conference team which had only three wins coming into tonight’s game. The Raptors are a very young team with a great deal of potential, but they are definitely a team the Suns can and should beat. The truth behind the loss is that it’s never easy to win on the road in the NBA, and the Suns are weary after their fourth road game in six days.
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