This was a battle until Marcin Gortat went down in the second quarter. After that the Suns looked defeated and pretty much heartless. The Raptors jumped on the opportunity given to them and pounded the Suns into submission. Raptors had 6 players in double figures led by DeMar DeRozan with 15 points. Both Raptors’ rookies had 10 points as well. Raptors were playing in garbage time for majority of the second half cruising on to a 98-71 thrashing of the Suns.
You want to look for things to be concerned about? Rudy Gay scored just 5 points and shot 2-7 from the field. Safe to say the Raptors will need a lot more from him against the Lakers on Friday. To be honest this game turned into an exhibition game fairly quickly after Gortat went down. Prior to him going down they couldn’t do much of anything to stop him.
Amir Johnson continues to play with more heart and energy than anyone on the floor in a Raptors uniform. Don’t go telling him all of this doesn’t matter now. If he puts on a jersey it matters to Amir Johnson. He continues to be the definition of what a professional athlete is. The thing that concerns you is the pain he is likely playing through to do so. He has been battling with an ankle that is not 100% for what seems like the entire season. At what point do you say that he has done enough for this year and live to fight another day? Amir is not hearing that message from anyone likely.
Dwane Casey played a hunch in this game and it was a good one. He felt that giving John Lucas’ minutes to Sebastian Telfair against his former team. He delivered with 13 points, 7 assists and 4 steals against his former club. In this stat driven world we live in, there is still room for playing a hunch based on human nature and emotion.
It is hard to tell if the Raptors have turned the corner and are back on track or just simply had a team hand them a game on silver platter. A true to test will come Friday as the Raptors look to do something they have never done in their team history. Sweep the L.A Lakers in a season series, in fact they have not won in L.A against the since December of 2001. That is one of just 2 wins all-time against the Lakers in L.A.
The Lakers are just a game and half back of the Jazz and two games behind the Rockets who hold the seventh and eighth playoff spots in the West. The Raptors get the chance to play spoilers as they will many times during these final 20 games or so left in the season.
This win against the Suns does not really give you any kind of confidence that the Raptors can beat a highly motivated but flawed Lakers squad.
Sorry about a mistake on my part pointed out to me on Twitter yesterday. I believe I wrote the Raptors had not won in Phoenix since 2004. Clearly a blocked out the Andrea Bargnani lead beating of the Suns last season in which he was in the midst of “The Mirage of Greatness.” Bargnani on this night came back down to earth with just 9 points but a high number of rebounds for him with 5. Clearly he is happy to stay on the road but will return with the rest of the Raptors to face the Cavs Sunday. How he is ultimately greeted will be interesting after at least showing a pulse on this road trip.