Suns Beat Down Raptors North Of The Border, 110-92

The Phoenix Suns didn't even need Aaron Brooks or Goran Dragic to conquer the woeful Raptors.

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Gortat, Nash, And Suns Brush Aside Raptors In Toronto, 110-92

Despite the Toronto Raptors' <sarcasm>bold move</sarcasm> to trade for Chicago's James Johnson, they fell 110-92 to the Phoenix Suns north of the border. Steve Nash and the Suns never really let Toronto have a chance, either. The team led 35-14 after the first quarter, and never really let the Raptors back into it.

The Suns were powered by yet another double-double from recently-acquired center Marcin Gortat, who had 17 points (on 7-of-9 shooting) and 11 rebounds in his 34 minutes on the floor. Nash, a Toronto favorite, would have nabbed a triple-double were it not for his poor 2-of-12 shooting. Regardless, he finished with seven points, seven rebounds, and 11 assists to only one turnover.

Phoenix shot a paltry 29% from behind the arc, which would normally be a bad thing. Fortunately, the Raptors were ice cold at 14.3% on only seven attempts. The Suns won the rebounding battle 42-31 and the turnover battle 13-18.

And they did it all without new guard Aaron Brooks, who was not able to suit up in time and will meet the team in Indianapolis when they play the Pacers on Sunday.

Perhaps the strong-handed victory is a good sign for the newly-vitalized team. If they're going to take advantage of playoff rival Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets losing their franchise players to the Eastern Conference, Phoenix is going to have to beat the mediocre teams and continue to pull out the surprise victories over quality squads, as they've had a tendency to do this season.

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Suns Cross Border, Clash With Raptors In Toronto

The Phoenix Suns will take the court for the first time since they traded Goran Dragic when they face the Raptors on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto is coming off a big victory over Chicago, defeating the Bulls 118-113 behind Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan, who scored 24 points a piece. Jose Calderon collected 17 assists in the winning effort.

The loss of Dragic has left the fanbase wondering how the team will respond. He was a fan favorite, especially after his heroic Game 3 performance in the playoffs against the Spurs last season. Replacing him is Aaron Brooks, who will not play until Sunday's game against the Pacers.

The Raptors are 16-42 this season, having taken a big step back after losing Chris Bosh to free agency. They recently acquired James Johnson, a second-year player out of Wake Forest, to start on the wing. The Raps are lengthy and play a European style of basketball, but their lack of big, skilled players has hurt them greatly this season.

Phoenix, on the other hand, has won 8 of their last 11 games, bringing them to within 2 games of eighth place in the Western Conference. At 28-27, the Suns will need to win at least 18 of their final 27 games to have a shot at the playoffs. 

There should be an interesting dichotomy on display: Raptors fans will likely boo Vince Carter while cheering for Steve Nash, Canada's favorite son. 

Tonight is the first of a five game road trip for the Suns, an Eastern Conference swing that includes games against Boston and New Jersey, who both completed big trades over the past few days. The Celtics picked up Jeff Green from the Thunder, while the Nets, of course, snagged Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz.

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