January 7, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) passes the ball against the Utah Jazz in the first quarter at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Raptors will be aiming for their seventh straight victory on Tuesday night, and the Phoenix Suns will look to redeem themselves as they begin a five-game road trip.
Phoenix just suffered a surprising 123-100 home loss to the shorthanded Miami Heat on Saturday.
The Suns are expected to offer stronger opposition than the Raptors on Sunday when they clinched a 105-101 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans to stretch their winning streak to the season’s best six games.
Losing to the Heat, the Suns had three returning players 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 haven’t seen anything terrible or even close to it,” said Suns coach Monty Williams. “I just think it takes a minute to regain your rhythm. … Just try to get the guys in a good rhythm position so they can be at their best. I don’t think I did a very good job this (Saturday) night. It felt 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 it’s not a team that you want to trust and allow them to see a few easy teams come in,” Booker said. “It was too loose; they had to do whatever they wanted. It was like they were running a script there.
Fred VanVleet continued to ride for the Raptors with 32 points and a season record with eight 3 points on Sunday. He hit two crucial 3-pointers in the final two minutes against the stubborn Pelicans.
“We ended up in a situation where we needed him to make some big plays and obviously he made about three really big ones in a row,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Big hits, man, big hits.” Just a great will, really, a great will to win.
VanVleet has scored 31 or more points in six of his last eight games. In his last eight games from Dec. 14, he’s averaged 30.6 points on 47.1% of shots from the field, including 45.6% at 3 points. As a result, he has become a focal point for opposing teams.
“Lots of attention, facial protection, I’ve seen a box and one a few times,” VanVleet said. “It’s ironic to say the least, for sure. But it was fun. It has been a challenge to learn and adapt. … I take this opportunity. “
Pascal Siakam had 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on Sunday for his eighth-best double-double this season. Siakam has recorded five or more assists in his best seven consecutive career games, averaging 6.4 assists per game during that span. He said he liked being a smuggler.
“I remember coming over, people always laughed at me when I said I didn’t want to be a big traditional,” Siakam said. “I put some work into it and I feel like the more experience I have with basketball, the better I get.”
The Raptors have listed Scottie Barnes (right knee pain) and Gary Trent Jr. (left ankle swelling) as questionable for Tuesday’s game. Trent was struck out of the game on Sunday with an ankle.
–Field level media