The Toronto Raptors will be going for their seventh straight win Tuesday night, and the Phoenix Suns will be out to make amends as they begin a five-game road trip.
Phoenix is coming off a surprising 123-100 home loss to the short-handed Miami Heat on Saturday.
The Suns figure to provide stronger opposition than the Raptors had Sunday when they eked out a 105-101 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans to stretch their winning streak to a season-best six games.
In losing to the Heat, the Suns had three players returning from health and safety protocol — Deandre Ayton (12 points, eight rebounds), Jae Crowder (three points, four steals) and JaVale McGee (no points, one rebound in six minutes).
“I didn’t see anything that was terrible or even close to that,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “I just think it takes a minute to get your rhythm back. … Just try to put guys in a good place from a rhythm standpoint so that they can be at their best. I don’t think I did a really good job of that (Saturday) night. It felt off all night long with the rotations.”
Devin Booker had 26 points and Mikal Bridges scored 20 against the Heat, who were without Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
“They came out way too comfortable, and that’s not a team that you want to give some confidence and let them see a couple easy ones go in,” Booker said. “It was too loose; they got to do whatever they wanted. It was like they were running a script out there.”
Fred VanVleet continued to roll for the Raptors with 32 points and a season-best eight 3-pointers Sunday. He hit two crucial 3-pointers in the final two minutes against the stubborn Pelicans.
“We got ourselves in a situation there, where we needed him to make some big plays and obviously he made about three really huge ones in a row,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Big shots, man, big shots. Just great will, really, great will to win.”
VanVleet has scored 31 or more points in six of his past eight games. In his past eight games starting Dec. 14, he has averaged 30.6 points on 47.1 percent shooting from the field, including 45.6 percent from 3-point range. As a result, he has become a focus for the opposing teams.
“A lot of attention, face-guarding, I’ve seen a box-and-one a couple times,” VanVleet said. “It’s ironic, for sure, to say the least. But it’s been fun. It’s been a challenge to learn and adapt. … I’m enjoying it.”
Pascal Siakam had 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on Sunday for his team-best eighth double-double this season. Siakam has had five or more assists in a career-best seven consecutive games, averaging 6.4 assists per game during that span. He said he enjoys being a passer.
“I remember coming in, people used to always laugh at me when I said I didn’t want to be a traditional big,” Siakam said. “I put the work in, and I just feel like the more experience I get with the basketball the better I get.”
The Raptors have listed Scottie Barnes (sore right knee) and Gary Trent Jr. (left ankle swelling) as questionable for the game Tuesday. Trent was scratched from the game Sunday because of the ankle.
–Field Level Media