Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
After losing its previous five games, the Toronto Raptors finally put one in the win column after a dominating performance at the US Airways Center.
Just wrap your minds around that for a second.
The Raptors improve to 24-38 on the season and 9-22 on the road after a convincing 27-point win over the 21-40 Suns, who are now just half a game away from being the worst team in the Western Conference.
Phoenix had some serious momentum coming into this game, and it's not as if the Raptors had been playing their best basketball as of late. This wasn't a given by any stretch of the imagination.
The score was only 28-24 for the Raptors after the first quarter, but the major turning point that shifted things in favor of Toronto for the rest of the game was the injury to Marcin Gortat.
Up until going down with an apparent ankle injury, Marcin had been killing Toronto in the paint, scoring eight quick points on 4 for 6 shooting. He also grabbed four rebounds. Had he continued to play, who knows how this game may have turned out. He was a difference-maker early on, and losing him clearly effected how Phoenix ran their offense. They were already missing Jermaine O'Neal (who was away from the team to be with his daughter who's about to have major surgery), so losing Gortat left them with only one true center, former Raptor Hamed Haddadi.
This game was "bowling shoe ugly", to coin a popular catchphrase from former WWE announcer Jim Ross.
The Suns had 29 turnovers, which led to 39 Raptors points. That's a nice coverup for the 21 turnovers Toronto had themselves.
In 26 minutes off the bench, Sebastian "Hustle" Telfair scored 13 points on 5 for 12 shooting, including three makes from behind-the-arc. He also chipped in seven assists, two rebounds and four steals.
He had a tremendous outing, but does it mean anything moving forward?
Will Sebastian now be the #2 point guard in the rotation because of his performance? I doubt it. Telfair showed signs of brilliance as a facilitator (Lucas is more of a scorer), but I would take this all with a grain of salt.
He had a solid outing against a former team. That's it.
Ross scored 10 points on 3 for 7 shooting in just under 22 minutes of action. He nailed a couple of three-pointers and grabbed four rebounds.
He missed his first few shots, but Casey kept him on the court, which was very reassuring. Rather than taking him out of the game when the going got tough, Terrence continued to fight, playing the entire second quarter and finishing the night with a decent enough performance.
It's imperative that we see more and more of Ross as the season dwindles down. There will be growing pains, but since the Raptors have little to no shot of making the postseason (you know I'm right), why not give Terrence more of an opportunity to develop with some reasonable minutes? I'm not saying coach Casey should just hand it to him on a silver platter, but with Terrence having a pivotal role in the Raptors future, it would seem like the smart thing to do, especially if he continues to show more and more improvement.
Seriously, what else is there to say about this joke of a game?
After the first quarter, it was all Toronto, all of the time.
I'm not going to put much merit in the numbers guys like Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay put up, nor should anyone else. This was a bush-league All-Star game, with no real cohesiveness, structure or flow.
There isn't a heck of a lot to take away from this blowout victory. The Phoenix Suns appeared to be completely lost and disinterested from the second quarter on. It was embarrassing to watch. A win is a win, but it's hard to put any more stock in the Raptors now because they dominated a team as weak as the Suns, especially after the Gortat injury.
Toronto played great team defense, forcing those many turnovers and holding the Suns to just 37% shooting from the field.
Again, does this all mean the Raptors are back on the right track again? Not necessarily.
The Raptors wanted to win this game. From the looks of it, Phoenix could have cared less.