Shortly before the Phoenix Suns shot their way to a 121-113 victory against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek praised the depth of Toronto’s bench. With Gerald Green scoring 28 points to lead the way, Hornacek spent Sunday afternoon watching his own bench outscore Toronto’s reserves 59-11.
In addition to the 28 from Green, Markieff Morris had a 16-point, 14-rebound double-double for the Suns, who are in a battle with the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey gave Phoenix’s bench full credit for the victory, but emphasized that a loss to a talented team that is a tough matchup isn’t something to blow out of proportion.
“It’s not a situation where it’s time to panic,” Casey said. “It’s one game. We knew we weren’t going to go undefeated the rest of the way. That team right there is fighting for their playoff lives like we are. They’re a very good team in the West. It’s not like it’s the end of the world.”
Still playing without top reserve Patrick Patterson, Toronto struggled to find scoring from its bench. Casey wasn’t willing to use Patterson’s absence as an excuse for the loss.
“We’ve played against quality teams without Pat,” Casey said. “We’ve got to continue to do that. Guys have to step up … I don’t think we’re going to see that type of speed and quickness, at least I hope not, the rest of the way.”
While the Raptors gave up a whopping 121 points to the Suns high-octane offence, they also shot well from the floor themselves. They just couldn’t match Phoenix’s speed and depth.
“We gave it our best shot,” Casey said. “I thought the difference was their speed and their bench had 59-11 from the bench. We’ve got to learn from it and move on.”
One thing to pull from this game is the importance of keeping composure. As the regular season winds down and the intensity rises, it becomes increasingly important to not pick up unnecessary technical fouls. Midway through the third quarter, Casey and DeMar DeRozan each picked up technicals, giving Eric Bledsoe a pair of technical free throws and capping off a 10-0 Suns run.
“We have to learn from it,” DeRozan said. “Just learn from it, take away a lot of stuff we can learn from it. We battled. A lot of stuff didn’t go our way, some calls, you know, myself I struggled with a couple shots … It was just a tough night overall, but we still fought.”
Toronto has been a disciplined team that shows up to play every night. With the postseason drawing nearer, games are going to get more physical and, along with that, more frustrating.
If there was a Raptor with reason to be frustrated on Sunday, it was Kyle Lowry. He took a P.J. Tucker knee to the head not once, but twice in a scramble for the ball late in the fourth quarter. While the play looked painful to watch, Lowry wasn’t upset with Tucker.
“It was an aggressive play,” Lowry said. “P.J. is not a dirty guy at all. I’ve known him for a while. He even apologized after he did it. But you know I would try to get the ball no matter what, too. I would do the same thing.”