Both the Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors came out playing tentative, lacking confidence in their game. No surprise since they are two of the seven worst teams in the NBA.
It was the Raptors who woke up to win the game while the Suns never looked right. In fact, for the second time this season, the Suns needed a final-possession score to keep from putting up a franchise-low 68 points.
Last time it was Wesley Johnson with the putback slam. This time, it was Marcus Morris with a 3 from the corner.
So much for four days off. Pregame, Lindsey Hunter responded, "We'll see" when I asked if the long break off a 3-game winning streak would have the young team feeling a little too good about themselves.
Goran Dragic was passing very well in the first, with 6 assists and a handful more great passes that ended in missed open shots. He fed Gortat on the pick-and-roll several times with success, to the tune of 8 quick points for the Polish Machine.
But Gortat went down hard on a Raptor's ankle at the end of the first and never returned. With Jermaine O'Neal already out to tend to his daughter, the Suns were down to fill-ins and a really big Iranian.
As this is going on, the Utah Jazz gave up a late lead to Cleveland, allowing the Cavs to finish the game on a 12-1 run to lose by a point. Well, at least the Lakers were down 19 at halftime. The Jazz wouldn't lose ground in their playoff hunt. Phew.
Enter Hamed Haddadi, activated for the first time since he played in Memphis. Haddadi was predictably lost out there, and the game crawled to a halt.
Sebastian Telfair came out with something to prove, scoring 10 points and dishing 4 assists in 15 minutes - after getting a grand total of SEVEN minutes in his first 6 games with Toronto - while Kendall Marshall just tried to hold the fort (0 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound) for 6 of those minutes. At least Bassy didn't pick his pocket.
When Dragic returned, he'd lost his first-quarter mojo and the Suns were toast. The Morris twins appeared disengaged, to the point where Michael Beasley was the "more focused" of the three.
By halftime, the Raptors were up 14 points and the Suns played like they had just met each other in the locker room earlier that night. The Suns finished the half with 13 turnovers to the Raptors' 4.
Telfair was a +12 in that first half. Did I mention he had gotten a grand total of seven minutes with Toronto in six games since the trade?
As bad as the second quarter went, the third quarter was worse for the Suns. The Suns still had no rhythm.
The Raptors took what they were given, while the Suns kept on giving.
At this goes on, the Los Angeles Lakers overcame a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to the New Orleans Hornets to finish on a 20-0 run to win by 6. 20 to 0. Really, New Orleans? Seriously? Are you an NBA team? You couldn't make one or two shots?
Enter Diante Garrett at PG for the Suns with 5 minutes left in the third and a 16 point deficit. What happened to your bright orange shoes, D?
The game quickly became a giveaway game for the Suns. No worries. They got more of these here home games on the slate.
Goran Dragic, who hurt his lower back in the Suns' last game, was short on his shot all night and not very aggressive in traffic. By the fourth quarter, Dragic was limping.
The Raptors made 10-22 threes (Bassy had 3 of them).
At least this helps their lottery position.