Contrary to popular opinion, the Toronto Raptors (18-8) didn't blow out the Phoenix Suns (9-21) at Talking Stick Resort Arena last night, scraping by for a 115-109 win. It wasn't pretty, but the win helped the Raptors finish off their four-game road trip with a respectable 3-1 record. They could have easily won all four games of the trip if not for the Raptors schedule loss against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Serge Ibaka undoubtedly put forth his best effort of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds. His efficiency has been steadily improving in recent weeks and seems to have peaked last night (8/11 field goals, 3/3 from 3-point range), which is such a welcome sight for Toronto. Both Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas (20 points, 11 rebounds last night) have been playing marvelous basketball of late, which provides such a luxury to the Raps offence. The prospect of Toronto's offence being even better than it has already been is scary, considering the club already ranks in the top-10 in offensive rating.
The bigs weren't the only ones feasting on the worst defensive team in the NBA. DeMar DeRozan finished with 37 points, including 18 in the third quarter. With Kyle Lowry struggling from the field once again and the bench unit under-performing compared to what we've grown accustomed to, the Raps needed each and every bucket DeRozan produced in Phoenix.
T.J. Warren heated up in the second half to finish tied for a team-high with 17 points. Greg Monroe was the more efficient of the pair, finishing with the same point total on 7/11 shooting. This team desperately needs Devin Booker back, especially since Warren hasn't stepped up the way they would have hoped in his absence.
The Raptors finally return home on Friday to play host to the Brooklyn Nets.