After morning shootaround on Friday, both Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and Suns coach Jeff Hornacek believed their matchup was going to be won or lost on the glass — with Toronto’s ability to grab offensive rebounds and convert second-chance opportunities going up directly against the Suns’ league-leading scoring numbers on the fast break.
It was the home team that got the message and delivered emphatically in a 106-97 win on Sunday night that denied the Raptors of a third straight win in Phoenix.
The numbers favouring the Suns on the glass were staggering in the loss:
– Not only did the Suns grab 18 offensive boards, they held the Raptors, who averaged 12.8 offensive rebounds per game entering Friday, to only 11.
“When you give them [Suns] 18 more bullets, you can’t win in this league,” Casey said post-game. “That’s the area that was a strength of ours, rebounding, and now it’s one of our weaknesses. Somewhere, somehow, we’ve got to get that back.”
– The Raptors scored 16 points off second-chance opportunities, below their league-leading average of 17.7 per game. Meanwhile the Suns converted their offensive rebounds into 21 second-chance points.
– Overall, the Raptors were outrebounded 53-36. The Suns, who aren’t exactly a very long team, averaged 41.1 rebounds per game coming into this one and Hornacek said much of the advantage was simply a product of desire.
“When you box a guy out, you have to drive him out. You can’t just step into his body because he will just reach out over us. That happened a couple of times. For the most part, our guys really went after the ball.”
– The duo of former Raptor PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris off the bench were particularly potent for the Suns — each grabbed six offensive rebounds which totaled one more than the entire Raptors starting five.
– Meanwhile, the Suns ability to score in transition was relatively unchanged with 19 fast break points, just a tick under their league-leading average of 20 per contest.
The loss of Tyler Hansbrough to a left shoulder AC sprain very early was an undoubtedly a factor for the Raptors on the glass. The energetic forward came into this game tied with Jonas Valanciunas for the team lead in total offensive rebounds at 47, but was forced out of the game after only two-and-a-half minutes and didn’t return.
Hansbrough will reportedly have an MRI on the shoulder Saturday in Los Angeles.
With or without him, the Raptors now face a significant challenge as they try and avoid a sixth straight defeat against the Lakers on Sunday. Kobe Bryant has announced that he intends to make his season debut against the Raptors after his eight-month recovery from rupturing his Achilles tendon.