Be prepared to see this clip replayed anytime Scottie Barnes has a huge moment in not only this season, but years to come.
Scottie scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth to help the Raptors keep Phoenix at bay. The Suns threatened to seize momentum mid third quarter, taking a brief lead. However Toronto had a response each time.
For the second straight week, the Raptors rebound on the second night of a back-to-back after lacking energy the previous night. This is despite being stuck in New York and not getting back to Toronto until 4am because of plane issues. The inconsistency and playing to level of the opponent is maddening at times, but at least it leads to thrilling games against contenders like the Suns!
Three keys for the victory:
1. Defending KD and Booker
Both Barnes and O.G. Anunoby played a role in making life miserable for both Suns superstars simultaneously, something much easier said than done. Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 30 points, but needed 30 shots to get it (11-30). That’s a percentage Darko Rajakovic and company will take every time.
Meanwhile Devin Booker was held to a season-low eight points on 2-12 shooting. His previous low was 24, further illustrating how uncharacteristically off he was. To make matters worse, Booker made two locker room visits with injuries but finished the game.
Impressive work against two 50/40/90 scorers.
2. Dennis the Menace
Absolute passing clinic from Dennis Schroder. He got the Raptors offence humming, especially in transition with nine first half assists. Schroder finished the game with 12 and no turnovers.
Schroder’s best assist of the night is the last one of these clips, nutmegging Kevin Durant and setting up Pascal Siakam for a dunk.
Barnes had a pretty good view, trailing that nutmeg play in transition. Here are his thoughts.
3. Fourth Quarter Scottie
Mentioned this off the top but Barnes has a flair for the dramatic with the game on the line. We saw glimpses of crunch time greatness in each of Scottie’s first two seasons. He also had the 17 point fourth quarter in the Raptors comeback win in San Antonio earlier this month.
Barnes added more clutch plays to the archives last night. The emergence of a respectable three point shot (37.9 percent) this season has given Scottie another weapon to work with when he needs to score.
Barnes received high praise from Darko Rajakovic (and also got the chain) postgame.
Durant has always had good things to say about Barnes, going back to his rookie year.
- HUSTLE: Sounds simple but this isn’t displayed by the Raptors every night. Shoutout to Precious Achiuwa who bounced back from a tough game against Brooklyn to record his first double-double of the season (14 pts, 10 reb). Diving on the floor to ensure a Raptors possession that they later scored on and grabbing one of his six offensive rebounds are examples of Achiuwa’s impact on the win. The key for Precious is to repeat these type of games more frequently, not just occasionally.
- FREE THROWS: The Raptors came in ranked 28th in free throw percentage, including shooting under 75 percent in the last three games. 18-21 is more like it. Along with his fourth quarter heroics, Barnes also went 8-8 and continues to step to the line to take free throws on violations. It’s odd when Schroder is in the game (an 87 percent shooter compared to Scottie’s 78) but you have to respect the confidence.
- DRAKE: Drake attended his second game of the season. He didn’t join the TSN broadcast and make fun of Payton Pritchard this time. But Drake made a rare locker room appearance.
Up next: Raptors stay home, take on the Knicks before the In-Season Tournament knockout stage gives them a few days off.