TORONTO – Gary Trent Jr. matched his season high with 35 points as the Toronto Raptors snapped a two-game slide with a 113-104 win against the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
With the game tied at 101, Scottie Barnes drilled a three-pointer with 3:16 remaining followed by a three from rookie Christian Koloko 1:27 later for a six-point edge.
It proved to be just enough as Toronto closed 2022 by also snapping a five-game skid at Scotiabank Arena.
In a dismal month, the Raptors (16-20) went 5-10 in December.
Pascal Siakam chipped in 26 points, O.G. Anunoby had 16 and Barnes scored 11 for Toronto.
The Suns (20-17) lost their second straight and were led by Chris Paul’s 20 points and 12 assists. Mikal Bridges scored 21 and Torrey Craig added 13 points.
The Raptors held an 86-79 advantage after three quarters. But Bridges followed up a three-pointer with a layup to give the Suns a 99-97 lead with 4:41 remaining.
Toronto enjoyed a 33-24 lead after the first quarter, only to watch the visitors go on a 12-0 run to begin the second and snatch a 34-33 lead.
But Siakam, Anunoby and Trent put together a 16-5 run for the Raptors to give them the edge. The Suns, however, finished the first half strong to ensure Toronto only held a 53-51 advantage heading to the locker rooms.
The Raptors were without all-star guard Fred VanVleet (back spasms) and Precious Achiuwa (ankle). The Suns were missing star Devin Booker (groin strain), Cameron Johnson (ankle), Cameron Payne (foot) and Landry Shamet (achilles).
Analyst Jack Armstrong was recognized during a second-quarter timeout for his 25th year with the Raptors. The 59-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native has been part of the team’s broadcasts since the 1998-99 season.
The Raptors are last in the NBA in defensive rebounding. So it was no surprise when they yielded a season-high 17 offensive rebounds to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday and 15 more against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
But the Raptors only grabbed three offensive rebounds in the first half against Memphis, despite ranking fifth in the category at 12.5 per game.
Did the focus on rebounding take away from the Raptors’ transition defence?
“We’re supposed to do both,” Nurse said. “We’re not doing either. So it was just a focus and energy effort problem (Thursday).”
The Raptors begin the New Year on the road against the Indiana Pacers on Monday and return home for a season-high six-game homestand, starting with the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2022.
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