NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, March 6th
(All times Eastern)
Toronto Raptors (23-38) at Phoenix Suns (21-39), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Raptors are embroiled in a five-game slide and
look to stop the bleeding when they resume a four-game road trip Wednesday
against the Phoenix Suns from U.S. Airways Center.
The losing streak reached five games in Monday's 125-118 loss at Golden State
as Rudy Gay returned after missing Saturday's loss at Milwaukee with back
spasms to score 26 points. Andrea Bargnani tallied 26 points and seven boards,
while Amir Johnson totaled 23 points and 15 rebounds off the bench.
"We were there but we weren't there," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. "Against
shooters like this, you have to be step-for-step, body-for-body and continue
to have contact and not lose contact."
Johnson became the first player in NBA history to come off the bench and
record 10 or more rebounds and shoot a perfect 10-for-10 from the field.
Toronto's defense has been poor lately and it allowed the Warriors to shoot an
opponent season high .573 from the field. The Bucks made 50-plus percent of
their shots in the opener of this road trip for the Raptors, who are 8-22
outside of Canada and are scheduled to visit the Los Angeles Lakers Friday.
Meanwhile, Gay is averaging 20.9 points in 14 games with the Raptors since
joining them via trade with Memphis. DeMar DeRozan, who had 15 at the
Warriors, is averaging 20.2 ppg in his previous five games.
Kyle Lowry just missed his second straight triple-double, finishing with 11
points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in the recent setback. He recorded 10
points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against the Bucks.
The Raptors endured six-game losing streaks in both November and December.
Phoenix enters Wednesday's bout with Toronto on a three-game winning streak
and hasn't played since last Friday's 92-87 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Goran Dragic scored 19 points and left the game in the third quarter with a
back injury. He is probable versus Toronto and leads the Suns in points,
assists and steals. Dragic is an important piece for Phoenix and is one of six
players posting averages of at least 14.0 points, 6.0 assists and 1.50 steals.
Dragic has been hot since the All-Star break, averaging 15.3 points, 10.7
assists and 2.29 steals.
Wesley Johnson scored a season-high 15 points and Jermaine O'Neal ended with
12 for the Suns, who last won four in a row from Dec. 12-19 this season.
"We are finding guys that want to play the right way and want to get out and
compete and that is what we have been looking for from the beginning," said
Suns coach Lindsey Hunter. "We are still working on our concepts."
The Suns played well on defense and held the Hawks to 42.5 percent shooting
from the field. Hawks stud Josh Smith had only five points. They have won two
in a row in the desert and are 14-15 as the host.
In other injury news for the Suns, twin forwards Markieff Morris (knee) and
Marcus Morris (toe) are probable and O'Neal (personal) is expected to miss at
least a week of action to be with his daughter, Asjia, who is expected to
undergo surgery on a leaky heart valve.
After hosting Toronto, the Suns will visit the Sacramento Kings Friday.
The Raptors defeated Phoenix, 101-97, on Nov. 30 this season north of the
border and have won two in a row in this series since a 14-game slide. The
Suns are 15-4 in the past 19 matchups in this series.
03/06 10:26:05 ET