Siakam, Barnes help Raptors upset Suns

TORONTO – Scottie Barnes seems determined to prove Philadelphia 76ers guard Patrick Beverley wrong.

Barnes had 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter as the Toronto Raptors upset Phoenix for a 112-105 win on Wednesday, snapping the Suns’ seven-game win streak. Barnes added seven rebounds and four assists.

He was also plus-14, the best plus/minus on either team, playing solid defence on Suns all-stars Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.

“I don’t know. I got that dog in me,” said Barnes with a smirk, alluding to Beverley’s tweet on Nov. 2 that the Raptors have no dogs in their lineup. “I get real energized. I just found the rhythm today, just had it going.

“Found something and just kept sticking with it, being aggressive. It was working.”

Head coach Darko Rajakovic had another explanation.

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“He’s a winner, Scottie Barnes is a winner,” he said. “When you coach him, you just feel that energy, you feel him on the bench the way he’s energizing the whole team.

“He’s not shying away from the moment offensively or defensively.”

Pascal Siakam scored 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds for Toronto (9-10). Precious Achiuwa had his first double-double of the campaign with 14 points and 10 rebounds for a season-high in both categories.

“We’ve got to keep fighting, keep working,” said Siakam. “It’s not always going to be pretty.

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“We’ll get a rhythm, win some games in a row and I think it’s going to help.”

Durant led Phoenix (11-7) with 30 points. Jusuf Nurkic had a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds as the Suns lost for the first time since Nov. 12. Booker had eight points, five rebounds and five assists.

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Barnes and OG Anunoby limited Durant to 11 of 30 and Booker to 2 of 12.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that’s long and athletic,” said Barnes. “A great defender in me, a great defender in OG, a good defender in Pascal.”

The Raptors were delayed getting out of Brooklyn on Tuesday, forcing the team to cancel morning shootaround as players and coaches rested after the late trip home.

But if Toronto was tired, it didn’t show.

The Raptors led by as many as seven points in the first quarter even though the Suns were better rested, having last played on Sunday in a 116-113 victory in New York. Achiuwa gathered an offensive rebound and then sank a jumper for a 27-20 lead after one quarter.

Anunoby drilled a three-pointer with 10 seconds left in the second for a nine-point lead, but Booker made two free throws to cut the Raptors lead to 60-53 at the half.

Nurkic got a defensive rebound and then finished off a series of passes with a three-pointer to give Phoenix its first lead of the game with 5:02 left in the third quarter. Poeltl replied with a field goal and Gary Trent Jr. drilled a three-pointer to give Toronto back its lead, but the Suns had reeled in the home side.

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Eric Gordon’s layup with 33 seconds left in the third cut the Raptors’ lead to 83-80, but Barnes made a pair of free throws and then a technical free throw for a six-point lead.

Barnes took over in the fourth, turning away from the basket before hitting a three-pointer a little over two minutes into the period. Then he drew a foul on a jumper, making the free throw for an eight-point lead. Achiuwa chipped in with a putback layup and a three-pointer for an 11-2 run that put Toronto up 99-88 with eight minutes to play.

Durant kept the Suns in the game, scoring 11 of his points in the fourth.

Nurkic sunk a five-foot hook shot to cut Toronto’s lead to two with 2:21 left to play but Anunoby replied with a three-pointer.

The sold-out crowd of 19,800 booed as a foul was called on Siakam with 1:25 left to play, sending Josh Okogie to the line. He made both free throws to again pull Phoenix to within three.

Anunoby grabbed the long rebound on Booker’s missed three-pointer, allowing the Raptors to kill more time and Dennis Schroder drove to the lane on the ensuing possession for a layup that gave Toronto a five-point lead with 24.4 left on the clock.

Barnes then sank two free throws for the game’s final score.

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ADDED DATE — Because the Raptors didn’t advance past the group stage of the NBA’s in-season tournament, they had another home date added to their schedule instead of playing in the bracket’s quarterfinals.

Toronto will now host the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

UP NEXT — Toronto hosts the New York Knicks on Friday.

The Suns return home to face Jamal Murray of Kitchener, Ont., and the Denver Nuggets.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2023.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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