The Toronto Raptors welcomed the Phoenix Suns into Scotiabank Arena tonight, as they played a second night of a back to back after coming home from Brooklyn in the early hours of the morning. Kevin Durant was available to play for the Suns after previously being questionable due to foot soreness, which was an added difficulty to the Raptors’ night. With all that — delayed flight, back to back, Durant — against them, seems like a scheduled loss? Think again.
While the Suns were playing to extend their winning streak to eight games total, the Raptors decided that would not happen and actually led most of the game... and WON.
Let’s back up...
The Raptors started their usual Dennis Schroder, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, and Jakob Poeltl. The Suns went with Josh Okogie, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkic, Eric Gordon and Devin Booker.
The Raptors started off on the right foot, winning the shooting game over the Suns in the first quarter. They shot 47.8% from the field as opposed to the Suns who shot 31.8%. Pascal led the Raptors with nine points, two assists and two rebounds.
Pascal Siakam either made or assisted on all 3 of the Raptors' threes in the first quarter. pic.twitter.com/JvqSjRwCJD— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) November 30, 2023
Raptors led 27-20 after the first quarter. The starters were playing with a punch not seen last night or even in Phoenix — even making free throws through the first quarter and into the second. Wild!
MUCH better start for the Raptors starters in this one. Forcing turnovers, getting in transition -- the drive + kick game is actually working.— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) November 30, 2023
After being held scoreless in the first quarter, Devin Booker scored a quick four points in the second to help the Suns get back within one point. The second quarter was all about runs, with the Suns improving on their field goal shooting percentage from the first.
The rest of the second quarter was filled with a rollercoaster of highlight reel worthy plays mixed in with not so great defensive plays. Pascal Siakam continued to lead all scorers.
The Raptors starters definitely did a better job of keeping the ship afloat than they were last night, but contrary to last night the bench was not helping out much. Darko Rajakovic also decided to use his challenge in the second quarter to attempt to hand Booker his third foul of the game, but it was unsuccessful.
BEAUTIFUL defense by OG.— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) November 30, 2023
Turns into offense.
Nice finish by Pascal.
This is Raptors basketball pic.twitter.com/FM6biVegVr
The Raptors were still winning the field goal percentage battle with 48.9% over the Suns 40.9%, and surprisingly (for this team) were ALSO winning the three-point battle. Toronto was 6-17 (35.3%) for three at half time where was the Suns shot 3-12 (25%) in the first half.
The Raptors led 60-53 going into halftime.
Unfortunately Devin Booker came out of the game early in the third quarter and seemed to be limping. He has been held to six points in the first half and already took a trip to the locker room as well.
The Raptors were slow offensively to start the second half, allowing the Suns to slowly creep back and make it a one possession game, but the Raptors didn’t let it get too out of hand.
The third quarter highlight was this Dennis assist below:
This was Dennis Schroder's 11th assist of the night. pic.twitter.com/sAy0IHx87B— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) November 30, 2023
The Raptors still had the lead 86-80 going into the final quarter.
SCOTTIE BARNES WITH A MONSTER BLOCK. pic.twitter.com/4b9bq5zLi4— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) November 30, 2023
Which coincidentally was the time Devin Booker decided to come alive — everyone loves crunch time, ya know. Yet, it was a Scottie and the bench lineup that was able to hold Booker off and go on a run to get ahead ten points. Both Gary Trent Jr and Precious Achiuwa were in double figures for the bench already.
That wasn’t gonna stop Kevin Durant though, and he already had 24 points, six assists and three rebounds by the seven minute mark in the quarter. But who was there to stop him? None other than Scottie Barnes, who cam into the game and immediately got back to blocking, assisting, rebounding, making shots and basically everything else you can think of to impact this game.
Scottie Barnes is really impacting every area of the court for the Raptors and it's incredible to witness. Obviously needs a bit of finesse still but the leap into this season has been fantastic— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) November 30, 2023
With 2:30 left in the game the Raptors were up 105-101, and the Suns were quickly gaining on them. Both teams brought back in their starters and it was a close one. Which is fun when you think about the Raptors getting blown out but not cute when you think about the likelihood of the Raptors losing after being up.
Yet, Dennis Schroder kept the Raptors up by 5, 110-105 with 24.4 seconds to go, Raptors ball. The Suns resort to fouling the Raptors, and Scottie Barnes heads to the free throw line. Luckily (and this wasn’t certain based on previous games), he gets both.
Raptors win 112-105 over the Phoenix Suns.
It was more of a full team effort from the Toronto Raptors than we’ve seen recently, stopping the Suns’ seven-game winning streak with this victory. Gary Trent Jr and Precious Achiuwa both scored in double digits off the bench, Malachi Flynn was a +9 as well. Scottie Barnes and O.G. Anunoby both had massive games, as did Pascal Siakam.
Barnes led the Raptors in scoring with 23 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, with Siakam close behind at 22 points, nine rebounds and three assists. O.G. Anunoby had three steals and played excellent defence, helping the Raptors stay ahead in the final minutes. Schroder had 12 assists on the night, adding to eight points and six rebounds.
In post game press, Scottie Barnes said he prioritized being physical and aggressive, knowing it was a big game for the team tonight. When asked about the differences in when he plays with the bench vs with the starters, he said that playing with the bench allows him to get in reps as a playmaker and at the top of the key. He said that he gets so pumped to perform so well in the fourth corner because he “has that dawg in him.” Very true.
He also mentioned he has noticed defences taking him more seriously on the perimeter and closing out more, now that he has made a lot more of those three point shots.
The Raptors will play again on Friday against the New York Knicks.