Trent Jr. propels the Raptors over the Suns 113-104

Prior to Friday’s game between the Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns, Nick Nurse took a shot with a 20-minute, rap-on-the-knuckles address.

He had a profitable bet. The Raptors replied by winning 113-104 to end a two-game losing run, led by Gary Trent Jr., who equaled his season high with 35 points.

After their most recent loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, the Raptors had lost eight of their previous ten games entering the game, and Nurse believed his team needed to improve in many areas as a result, which is why he lectured the squad before the game.

When deciding whether to participate in one of such sessions, Nurse acknowledged that it is not always the simplest choice. “I think you’re doing a small roll of the dice, and it is a roll of the dice that worked out.”

In addition to other things, Nurse advised his crew that they should work harder and move more quickly.

Nurse continued, “Part of it today was the technical stuff, doesn’t matter, It’s like 0.05 per cent if the effort isn’t there.”

The Raptors’ miserable December, which saw them go 5-10, came to an end with the victory in their final game of 2022.

Raptors rookie centre Christian Koloko said, “The message was we’ve just got to play harder, We’ve got to play harder. We watched a lot of clips from the last game. We didn’t play with any effort.

“Today, we started the game, and we were really playing good defence. We were really aggressive. Everybody was doing a good job. Every time we play like that, we have a good chance to win games.”

But towards the end of the fourth quarter, the result was still uncertain. With 3:16 left in the game, Scottie Barnes made a three-pointer to equalize the score at 101. Koloko then made a three-pointer 1:27 later to give Toronto a six-point lead.

Koloko was an unusual choice for the play, but Trent and Pascal Siakam were well defended by the Suns. For his first three-pointer in eight attempts this season, Siakam found Koloko in the corner.

Koloko said, “He saw me, he ain’t got no choice, to be honest, because I think he had two men in front of him.

“I knew he was going to pass it to me as soon as I saw my man standing (away) from the corner. I told him after the timeout, ‘I appreciate you believing in me for trusting me on that last pass.’ It’s the end of the game, and I’m not put in that position every day.”

The victory at Scotiabank Arena in front of 19,800 people ended a five-game losing streak at home.

For Toronto, Siakam scored 26 points, O.G. Anunoby added 16, and Barnes added 11.

Chris Paul led the Suns with 20 points and 12 assists as they suffered their second consecutive loss. Torrey Craig contributed 13 points, and Mikal Bridges scored 21.

At the end of three quarters, the Raptors were in the lead, 86-79. With 4:41 left, Bridges converted a layup after making a three-pointer to give the Suns a 99-97 advantage. After the first quarter, Toronto led 33-24, only for the visitors to go on a 12-0 run to start the second and steal a 34-33 advantage.

With less than four minutes remaining in the first half, though, Siakam, Anunoby, and Trent put together a 16-5 run for the Raptors to give them the lead. To ensure that Toronto only had a 53-51 lead going into the locker rooms, the Suns, though, played well in the closing minutes.

All-star guards Precious Achiuwa and Fred VanVleet were out for the Raptors because to back spasms (ankle). Devin Booker, a star for the Suns, was absent due to a groin strain, along with Cameron Johnson, Cameron Payne, and Landry Shamet (Achilles).

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