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Suns come of out of break struggling immensely from 3, fall to Raptors

Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors shoots the ball as Kelly Oubre Jr. #3 of the Phoenix Suns defends during the first half of an NBA game at Scotiabank Arena on February 21, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The formula for beating the Toronto Raptors is primarily built off punishing their excellent defense when they present good opportunities.

For the Phoenix Suns on Friday night, that was Toronto giving them open three-pointers in order to cut off as many chances as possible for Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

Even with the Suns being the healthiest they’ve been in months, that didn’t save them from bricking most of those shots to the tune of 18.2% shooting from deep (6-of-34) and were handled by the Raptors 118-101.

In the first game for both teams out of the All-Star break, both Nick Nurse and Monty Williams seemed to have an understanding as to how the game was going to go on one side of the court.

Nurse was going to commit soft traps towards Devin Booker on the perimeter, letting him barely get inside the three-point line with the ball if at all possible. That would put the Suns in some 4-on-4 and 4-on-3 situations when Booker made the right read by passing out of the play once the full weight of the defense had come over towards his side of the court.

Williams saw that coming, so Phoenix didn’t run much around Booker (or Ayton) to open the game. But eventually, shots weren’t falling enough and Booker had to try and take over the game.

With Phoenix down 18 midway through the second quarter, Booker played an almost perfect five minutes straight of offensive possessions. He either was scoring or eventually setting up a good look for a teammate.

Again, though, some of these were the three-pointers that his teammates continued to not convert on.

In the third quarter, Toronto’s Serge Ibaka picked up his fifth foul and Nurse went small. That unconventional lineup allowed the Suns a chance back in the game trailing by 13. On the next four possessions, Ricky Rubio traveled, Mikal Bridges committed an offensive foul and Cam Johnson missed back-to-back open three-pointers. The Suns were back down 18 again, Williams called a timeout and that was basically it.

A ridiculous 20-2 run would materialize later from the Suns through the play of Jevon Carter and the bench, but the Suns never got within five points or more from that point on.

Booker finished with 21 points and eight assists. Ayton recovered from a slow start to 17 points and 10 rebounds while Rubio added 13 points, nine assists and four steals.

Pascal Siakam was tremendous for Toronto with 37 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. The Raptors shot 52.5% from the field.


The Suns have to bounce back fast in Chicago on Saturday against the Bulls. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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