‘Tis the season for speculation, so we have to start this recap before tip-off when Masai Ujiri and James Jones walked together into the tunnel. Trade discussions?
Now onto the game. The Raptors started the night uncharacteristically sloppy on offence. They take care of the ball better than any team in the league but had six first quarter turnovers. Mikal Bridges also scored 16 of his game-high 29 points in the opening quarter.
Scottie’s third quarter
The Raptors opened up the third on a 12-0 run to turn a nine point halftime deficit into a three point lead. Scottie did a great job keeping the momentum going afterwards with his activity on the glass and also added a few assists. He got the better of Deandre Ayton during this stretch, who was motivated to see the Raps again after an abysmal four point (2-10 FG) game in Toronto a month ago.
Ayton was also the new Quentin Grimes for a hilarious moment during the run.
The first one didn’t cost the Raptors because Pascal Siakam was there for the putback but there were some potential points lost during the Raptors third quarter run. Precious Achiuwa trying to power through Chris Paul makes sense, CP3 is just savvy and stripped the ball. The Gary Trent Jr. two-on-one (sorry for the hitch) was a big momentum killer. That missed dunk should have been a pass to Siakam, and instead Cam Johnson swung what would have been a nine point game to four with a three the other way.
Biggest plays of the game
For the next quarter a change the Raptors and Suns traded leads. Nick Nurse’s fourth quarter lineup of Barnes and reserves lost 10-5 in three minutes in 3:51, however Toronto was able to retake the lead later. Fred VanVleet had a couple of open looks from three that would have been huge, but missed them including an air ball.
The two plays that hurt the Raptors the most were Torrey Craig’s offensive rebound in a one point game, leading to a Chris Paul three and followed by an Ayton tip-in to put the Suns up six.
Ayton bounced back from his previous off-game against the Raptors with 22 points and 13 boards. He wasn’t happy with a few missed bunnies (a couple blocked by Scottie) but overall the difference between the two games was night and day.
Speaking of Scottie, Ayton was asked about the stare down.
As Fred mentioned below, the Raptors are competing better than they were weeks ago. However time is of the essence if there are aspirations of making the play-in. Toronto trails Chicago for the 10th seed by a game and a half.
What’s Next: Game five of the road trip goes through Utah on Friday.
4 thoughts on “Suns slip away from Raptors late fourth”
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