The return of Hedo Turkoglu to Toronto didn’t produce the fireworks that were expected — it was a pre-season game, after all — but the Raptors offence more than made up for it in the entertainment department.
Breaking out of a first half funk, Toronto put together an impressive 39-point third quarter en route to its second win over the Phoenix Suns in exhibition this year, taking it 121-100 on Sunday.
Amir Johnson came off the bench and picked up a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Linas Kleiza led all scorers with 23 points to give the Raptors to their third win of the pre-season.
Steve Nash sparked the Suns to a dominating first quarter, scoring nine points and six assists in the frame to give Phoenix a 33-21 lead.
But Toronto stormed back in the second, picking up the intensity as the game went along.
Aside from the first quarter, the Raps looked like the energetic bunch that nearly came back from a 28-point deficit in the fourth quarter to the Boston Celtics on Friday.
Six different Raptors scored in double figures as a well-balanced offence contributed mightily to the win.
Nash had a team-high in all three major offensive categories, finishing with 16 points, six assists, and seven rebounds in the loss.
Turkoglu a non-factor
Turkoglu was certainly booed any time his name was announced or when he touched the ball, but the former Raptor — who demanded a trade in the off-season and made some negative comments about the city and franchise — didn’t hear much from the crowd simply because he hardly played.
He was on the floor for 20 minutes, putting up just four shots and finishing with five points and five rebounds.
The player Toronto got for Turkoglu, Leandro Barbosa, didn’t fare to well either, making the trade seem kind of a curse on playing performance for the day.
Barbosa was 1-for-6 from the floor, and managed just one rebound and two assists in 16 minutes of game action.
Raptors show some effort
If the first quarter was to be any indication of how the entire game would develop, the Suns would have run away with a blowout win.
Instead Toronto stuck around, chipping away at a deficit that went as high as 13 points, until ultimately closing out the half on a 10-3 run to cut the lead down to two heading into the break.
The offence picked up for Toronto as its defence improved. The Raptors took advantage of a sloppy Suns team, scoring 25 points off 18 Phoenix turnovers.
A particular Nash give-away in the second quarter seemed to really spark the Raptors side. As the Canadian point guard attempted a behind-the-back pass in the paint, DeMar Derozan swooped in to steal the ball and set off for a fast-break chance.
With just one Phoenix defender back, the sophomore flipped a pass to Amir Johnson at the free throw line, who completed the play with a leaping one-handed slam that drew the biggest cheers of the night.
The dunk brought it to 54-52, and aside from trading buckets in the first few minutes of the third quarter, Toronto never looked back.
Andrea Bargnani had another strong shooting performance, ending up with 15 points in 25 minutes of work. The first overall draft pick has had some issues executing this pre-season, but went 7-for-12 from the floor in this one.
Toronto now has a couple days off before a rematch with the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.