PREVIEW: Toronto Raptors shake off nine-game skid ahead of matchup vs. Phoenix Suns

By Field Level Media
Mar 24, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) moves to the basket as Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) defends during the first half at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After ending a nine-game skid emphatically against the Denver Nuggets, the Toronto Raptors will try to carry the momentum into their game against the visiting Phoenix Suns on Friday night at Tampa.

The Raptors dominated the Nuggets 135-111 on Wednesday for their first win since Feb. 26, led by 27 points from Pascal Siakam. The Raptors controlled the game from the outset and made a franchise-record 24 3-point shots in 48 attempts.

The Raptors will have a different look Friday. Norm Powell, who scored 22 points against the Nuggets, was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday for Gary Trent and Rodney Hood, according to ESPN.

The Suns, meanwhile, had their seven-game road winning streak end Wednesday when they lost to the Orlando Magic 112-111.

Devin Booker missed a layup on a baseline drive at the buzzer in traffic after Evan Fournier gave the Magic the lead on a driving layup over Deandre Ayton with 6.4 seconds remaining in the game.

“I think it shouldn’t have even been that close of a game to begin with,” said Booker, who had 25 points.

“We just didn’t put a full game together,” said Chris Paul, who scored 23 points. “Think we came out with the right energy, right pace, but we didn’t sustain it. So give them credit. This is a game we should’ve won. Everybody was in the locker room sitting there like, what the hell is going on?”

“For whatever reason, we just didn’t make shots,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.

Phoenix led Orlando by as many as 13 points in the first half, but Orlando had cut the lead to five going into the fourth.

“We just never got over that hump,” Booker said. “We pushed the lead to 10, to 12 a couple of times, but messed around with the game and they stuck around and finished it out the right way.”

The Suns are 14-6 on the road. They have won 21 of their past 27 games overall.

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Booker scored 24 points on Jan. 6 when the Suns beat the visiting Raptors 123-115 in the first meeting this season between the teams. Siakam had 32 points for Toronto in that game. The Raptors had won the previous six games between the teams.

Siakam had a heated postgame exchange after the road loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. He had scored nine points and did not play in the fourth quarter.

The next night at Houston he scored 21 points in a loss to the Rockets.

“Pascal wasn’t very happy that he didn’t play in the fourth quarter (Sunday),” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said before the game on Wednesday. “He expressed those concerns. And that’s about it.”

Siakam said the outburst was a result of the Raptors’ losing streak.

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“You lose nine games in a row, I guarantee you that, if you are a team that is serious about winning, it’s not going to be fun, there’s not going to be a lot of joking around, it’s going to be tough,” Siakam said. “I think we all focus on winning, and I think that is the only thing that really matters and that’s what we have in mind. That’s what I have to say: We want to win and losing ain’t fun.”

“The discipline stuff is being worked out with the front office,” Nurse said.

–Field Level Media