What happens when an unstoppable force - in this case, P.J. Tucker's knee - meets a movable object - in this case, Kyle Lowry's skull?
To put it bluntly, the unstoppable force wins, Lowry ends up on the court holding his head and the Raptors' chances of winning a game in which they were soundly outplayed dip from slim to nil. When Lowry grabbed a defensive rebound the Raptors trailed 116-109 with 1:42 to go. He tripped, fell, then took two knees from Tucker to the head before losing the ball to Eric Bledsoe. Dwane Casey had a minor heart attack on the sideline and, while it was certainly a missed call, the 121-113 final score didn't lie: the Raptors deserved to lose, and they did.
From the beginning the Raptors were uncomfortable adjusting to the Suns' style of play, a crowd-pleasing derivation of smallball that only seemed to gain force when they went to their bench. The Suns' reserves scored 59 points to Toronto's 11. They were led by the Morris twins, who combined for 26 points, and Gerald Green, who scored 28 and made a series of increasingly ridiculous shots in the second half before picking up a technical for taunting the Raptors' bench. If there's one thing that can be said for certain about this game, it's that the Raptors simply cannot survive much longer without Patrick Patterson. A patchwork bench big man rotation of Steve Novak, Tyler Hansbrough and Chuck Hayes just won't do.
Back to basketball. After a late first half rally brought them within two, 61-59, the Raptors simply got worked over early in the third, falling behind by as much as 14. The damage came from Green and Tucker: Green hit several tough jumpers, while Tucker frustrated DeMar DeRozan into a 6-16 shooting night and a technical foul after DeRozan found Tucker's physical defense just a touch objectionable.
Fortunately, as has been the case so often this season, Lowry came to the rescue, scoring 19 points in the third quarter alone. The concept of a player "willing" his team to victory is tough to define, but Lowry does his best to do it almost every single night. He finished with 28-5-13 and made up for another lackluster performance from DeRozan.
The Suns' insistence on mostly playing small put Casey in an awkward position with Jonas Valanciunas, who scored 13 points in the first quarter before disappearing for the rest of the game. It's clear that Casey isn't totally comfortable with playing Valanciunas against smaller players, and I can't say I blame him in this case. At times Phoenix was playing one of the Morris twins at center; it's unreasonable to expect Valanciunas to play in that kind of a game.
All in all, it was far from the worst loss in the world. Splitting against Memphis and Phoenix is nothing to be ashamed of and the Raptors now move into an easier stretch of the schedule, although many of those games will come on the road. With Chicago, Brooklyn and Washington all lurking just below them, there's no room for the Raptors to trip up during upcoming winnable games against Atlanta and New Orleans.
There will also be less of P.J. Tucker, and for that we can all be thankful.