Toronto Raptors v Phoenix Suns

The Raptors snapped their five-game losing streak by putting an absolute beat down on the hapless Suns in Phoenix.

Here are some thoughts on the game…

Raptors 98, Suns 71

- The big story in this game was that Dwane Casey elected to go with Sebastian Telfair as his backup point guard instead of John Lucas III, and it certainly paid off for the Raptors. As regular RaptorBlog readers know, I’ve been hoping to see Telfair on the floor instead of Lucas for some time now, as when JL3′s shot isn’t falling, he’s a detriment to the team because he doesn’t move the ball on offence and isn’t big enough to be a factor on defence. On Wednesday night in Phoenix, Telfair was as active defensively as Kyle Lowry usually is, if not more so, and there wasn’t any letdown in perimeter defence between the starters and the bench. More importantly, Telfair acted as a true point guard in running the second unit and looking for his teammates on every possession (until the game got out of hand, at which point Telfair started chucking, himself).

The end result was Telfair posting 13 points, seven assists and four steals in 26:38 of playing time off of the bench. Just for the record, Lucas hasn’t posted seven assists in a game at all this season.

I’m sure the reason Casey went with Telfair in this game is because the point guard was fired up to face his former team, and I know putting up good numbers in a blowout win over this Suns team means next to nothing, but Telfair should be given a chance to be this team’s backup point guard over the final 20 games since, you know, he’s the only other actual point guard on the team after Lowry. Hopefully we see him before Lucas on Friday night in L.A.

- The 71 points scored by the Suns was a season low in points allowed for the Raptors this year and this marks the first time in franchise history that Toronto has defeated Phoenix on three straight occasions.

- As is usual for teams in blowout victories, the Raptors didn’t have any big individual scorers tonight, but they did have six players in double figures with Telfair, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Alan Anderson, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas all scoring between 10-15 points. In addition, all 11 Raptors who played in this game scored at least three points.

- Terrence Ross has been in an awful shooting slump, and as much as we’d all like him to get minutes, he wasn’t doing much to earn that time recently, so it was nice to see the rookie out there for more than 21 minutes tonight and getting the chance to work through some of his struggles on the court. Ross made just three of his seven attempts from the field, but he also hit two of his three attempts from behind the arc.

- As for the Raptors’ other rookie – the one who does deserve more time than he’s getting – I like the fact that in recent games, players are finally starting to look for Jonas Valanciunas under the basket. Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay, especially, seem to be rewarding the big Lithuanian on his hard rolls to the bucket. One thing I’d like Dwane Casey to do now is let Valanciunas stay on the floor when he finds himself in foul trouble. Casey doesn’t usually play JV in crunch time anyway, so I just don’t understand the need to pull him off the floor when he picks up a couple of fouls if you’re not saving him for anything down the stretch.

- This Suns team is just awful, and to make matters worse, they’re in the tough position of having an awful team without having any really promising young players to move forward with. Goran Dragic is a good point guard, but I’m not as convinced as others that he’s a franchise point guard. Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola are 29 and 32, respectively, and the only other player on this team that even mildly intrigues me is rookie point guard Kendall Marshall. In addition, while the Suns are bad, if the season ended today they’d only be on track for the No. 6 pick in a pretty weak Draft, so their only hope to recover next season is if they can turn two potential lottery picks (they have the Lakers’ pick from the Nash deal) into something bigger or if they can turn their cap space and marketable warm weather into a marquee free agent signing.

The more patient approach, and perhaps the most sound one, would be for the Suns to just throw in the towel on next season as well and hope to land one of the potential franchise changing talents expected to emerge in the 2014 NBA Draft.

- All in all, the Raptors blowing out the Suns to snap a five-game losing streak isn’t as impressive as it would have been if the Raps were still in some sort of meaningful race. I’m much more interested in seeing how this team comes out on Friday night in Los Angeles against a Lakers team that is finally starting to come together and inch towards a playoff spot in the West.

Raptors Player Of the Game: Sebastian Telfair – 13 Pts, 5/12 FG, 3/9 3PT, 2 Reb, 7 Ast, 4 Stl, 2 TO in 26:38

Suns Player Of the Game: Marcin Gortat – 8 Pts, 4/6 FG, 0/1 FT, 4 Reb, 1 TO in 11:25 (The Suns were so bad tonight that I think their player of the game was a guy who left the game with an injury in the first quarter)

Comments (19)

  1. Fuck this game. Fuck this season. I want to talk about the offseason. Is BC that dumb to extend gay in the offseason as Yahoo reported? I shudder to think at how much he will give him. Also, does this mean he is going to stay? I dont think he has earned it, to be honest. Also, bruce arthur reported that casey and BC have a rocky relationship and his hunch is BC wont be back. Fingers crossed!! Some juicy rumors floating around raptorland these days.

    • Where are you seeing this Bruce Arthur report?

      Colangelo seemed to love Casey and his defensive impact after last season, but between his comments during the 4-19 start that it’s “not a talent issue” and the various reports that they were split between Lowry/Calderon, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some tension there now.

      • “This season the coach and the GM have become icy, too, just as Sam Mitchell and Bryan Colangelo did. And it seems quite unlikely that Colangelo will still be in his chair next season, just as Glen Grunwald was let go. You can find a lot of guys to miss the playoffs for five straight years, even though this will be the first time it has happened to the Raptors. Eventually, when nothing’s happening, it’s time.”

      • Funny thing you mention that BC quote. In the Yahoo piece he says “We obviously needed to elevate the talent level of our team”. Contrast that with 4-19 quote and the man looks more and more like a clown. Smart fans knew that already, I hope.

    • LOL Why all the hate for BC!?!? What exactly did you wish he had done differently. He tried to build around Bosh and tried to keep him around. When Bosh left to go to Miami, he’s been trying to rebuild. The team has improved to contend for a playoff spot. I think the Raptors have closed the gap significantly. Take half of those heart breaking losses this year and turn them into wins and we’re in the playoffs this year.

      • I don’t think BC has done anything outright indefensible, but he’s made enough major gambles that haven’t paid off to make it best that someone else is able to make decisions going forward. Bottom line is the team is going to miss the playoffs for five straight years for the first time ever, and it’s all on him.

      • You answered your own question. Bosh wasnt good enough to build around and everyone knew that. He was a secondary piece. However, bc never got bosh a good wing player to work with like gay. Instead, they had the anthony parkers and jamario moons of the world. Also, bc compounded that by letting bosh go for nothing essentially. The idiot never even used the tpe that much after he wouldnt stop talking about it after they traded him to the heat. BC had done a poor job here. But im thinking part of the reason why is the struggle to get GOOD U.S players to come here.

        • They traded Bosh away for 2 1st round picks. One of those picks turned into JV. I wouldn’t call that nothing. It’s always been tough to get GOOD US players to come here. Hopefully they can lure some talent to come here and play along what they have building now.

          • You forget that the jv first rounder was reacquired after they had sent it to miami to get rid of JO. That was another BC blunder.

      • Truth is,
        nobody can really evaluate (in an objective manner) what Colangelo did in the previous years, but we can say this for sure: Casey is NOT the head coach to go in the long term.
        I mean, everybody can have his own view on the GM job, but this team absolutely need a better coach to get to the next level.
        Here’s why I’m with B.C. in the current power fight.

  2. “…he’s the only other actual point guard on the team after Lowry.” Wait, Lowry’s a point guard?! Coulda fooled me.

    • If that’s supposed to be a knock on his passing, I don’t really understand where it’s coming from since if anything, he’s passed rather than looking for his own shot TOO MUCH recently and actually ranks in the top-20 in NBA in assists per minute played.

      He makes some poor decisions from time to time, but questioning his status as a point guard is extreme. He’s not a shoot-first chucker. He’s actually a pretty complete point guard.

  3. Eric Gordon really likes phoenix so there is a good chance he is headed there after the season

  4. Casey’s reluctance to play the rookies has sapped any will I had to continue watching the games this season

  5. Where the hell was this team all year

  6. The entire BA article was just conjecture and/ or wishful thinking. Did not sound like he had any inside insight at all.

    • Agreed. This column wasn’t one of Arthur’s better opuses. Creating a winning team isn’t as easy as some might think, while sitting back and taking potshots at the GM for setbacks is facile. How does Arthur know that this team “doesn’t really fit together”. It takes time for players to fit together and learn how to play together – witness Indiana’s slow-but-steady progress from mediocrity and worse. High turnover on the Raptors team has made the task of creating a winning team more difficult, and it can be argued that BC et al. are now on the right track post-Bosh; further upheaval is the last thing the team needs at this point.

  7. “Terrence Ross has been in an awful shooting slump, and as much as we’d all like him to get minutes, he wasn’t doing much to earn that time recently”

    Considering that the Raps aren’t making the playoffs, it should be irrelevant whether he’s earning that time or not. He simply needs to play a significant amount of time in order to further his development. With Ross it doesn’t matter if he gets 5 points or 24 a night, he needs to be on the court and gaining experience.

  8. never seen so much nonsense in so many posts as by ‘AD’. Get that clown off this site.

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