The Toronto Raptors, winners of 15 of their last 16 games prior to the All-Star break resumed their winning ways with a convincing 118-101 win over the Phoenix Suns Friday night at Scotiabank arena.
The seventeen point margin of victory did not tell the story of this game. The Raptors jumped to a 31-23 first quarter lead behind 17 points from all-star forward Pascal Siakam and looked poised to blow the Suns out, racing to a 67-43 advantage at the half.
But the Suns refused to go away, taking advantage of several Raptor turnovers to cut the lead to 75-62 just five minutes into the third quarter. The Raptors responded, behind spirited play at both ends of the floor from forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who came off the bench in relief of Serge Ibaka, after the Raptors center picked up his fifth foul early in the period. Jefferson scored seven points, his driving layup capping an 18-6 run and giving the Raptors what looked to be a more than comfortable 93-68 lead with 1:50 left in the third. The Suns again fought back however, scoring the last ten points of the quarter, en route to a 20-2 run that saw the Raptors lead pared to just seven points with 4:41 left in the game.
The Raptors, displaying the poise characteristic of last year’s championship run dug in, Ibaka nailing what looked to be an unintended bank shot from beyond the arc to give the Raptors a 107-95 lead with just over four minutes remaining. From there the Raptors closed it out, Siakam scoring six points down the stretch to put the game out of reach.
Siakam finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds, shooting an impressive 12 for 19 from the field including five of nine from distance. Siakam was one of seven Raptors in double figures, including Terence Davis III and Hollis-Jefferson who combined for 24 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Lowry had a double double, with 13 points and 10 assists. Devin Booker led the Suns with 21 points while centre Deandre Ayton added 17 points and 10 boards.
While the Raptors committed a season-high 25 turnovers, the defense was stingy, the Raps blocking 13 shots, four each by OG Anunoby and forward Chris Boucher. The Raptors strong perimeter defense limited the Suns to just 6 of 34 (17.2%) from three point range and 41.2% from the field overall.
With the win the Raptors improve to 41-15 and remain in second place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Since January 15th the Raptors record is 16-1- tops in the NBA. Tonight’s game was the first of a four game home stand for Toronto. The Raps host the Indiana Pacers Saturday night, tip-off 6:00 pm.