DeRozan, Johnson lift Raptors past Suns, 98-71
PHOENIX (AP) — Sebastian Telfair had some extra incentive in his return to Phoenix for the first time since the Suns traded him to Toronto last month.
Telfair, who had played in only one game with the Raptors, scored 13 points to help Toronto cruise to a 98-71 win over Phoenix on Wednesday night.
“I love playing in Phoenix,” Telfair said. “I love the city, the fans. I learned a lot here and grew as a person. But I had to leave my kids. My kids are back here in school so, yeah, it is personal.”
Sent to the Raptors on Feb. 21 in a deal for Hamed Haddadi and a second-round pick, Telfair had played only seven-plus minutes, had remained on the bench as a coach’s decision four times and had yet to attempt a basket, much less score any points.
Against his former team, Telfair entered the game to light applause with 2:38 left in the first quarter and played the remainder of the half. He scored his first points for Toronto on a driving layup, sprinting past Goran Dragic with 35.1 seconds left in the quarter and finished the first half with a team-high 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting as the Raptors opened a 54-40 halftime lead.
“I was expecting to get some minutes but I didn’t know how many,” Telfair said. “Anytime your spot is taken or given away you want to come out there and show you are a player. I do this for my family and my kids. I’ve got to do this.”
DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points and Amir Johnson added 14 to lead the Raptors, who ended a five-game losing streak.
“I thought it was one of our most focused efforts of the year defensively,” Raptors coach Dwayne Casey said. “Everyone that went into the game had a big time effort, a good defensive focus, and I thought they stayed to the task.”
Marcus Morris scored 12 points and was the only player in double figures for the Suns, who committed a season-high 29 turnovers and snapped a three-game winning streak.
“I do not see one bright spot to take from that game other than it is over,” Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said. “Back to the drawing board.”
The Raptors led 25-22 late in the first quarter when Suns center Marcin Gortat came down with a rebound and stepped on Johnson’s foot. He crumpled to the floor and held his right foot before being helped off the floor.
“I don’t know what happened,” Gortat said. “I just heard a pop. I’ll be able to play. Well, I say yeah but the doctors say no, I’m out for a few days, maybe weeks.”
Gortat did not return and Phoenix, already without backup Jermaine O’Neal, was left with Haddadi as the only true center available.
As a result, the Suns spent the bulk of the game with a smaller lineup that was dominated by the speedy Raptors’ guards, led by DeRozan and Telfair.
“The movement stopped working and everything,” said P.J. Tucker, one of three Suns with eight points. “We went small, had threes at the four, fours at the five. In live games, to be able to make plays, make it work is hard when you’re small like that.”
Toronto opened the second half on a 7-0 run to make it 61-40 with 9:49 left in the third quarter and led by at least 15 the rest of the way.
“We were desperate and tired of losing, being on that five-game losing streak,” DeRozan said. “We had to continue to keep stepping on their necks. We tend to give up leads tonight and tonight we stayed focused, especially on defense.”
NOTES: Morris kept the Suns from matching the 32-year-old franchise record for fewest points with a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left. ... X-rays on Gortat’s foot were negative. He’s schedule for an MRI exam on Thursday. Gortat has started 138 consecutive games for the Suns and 182 straight overall. ... Telfair had his highest scoring total since getting for the Suns on Jan. 14 against Oklahoma City. ... Gortat finished with eight points, tied for third-highest on the team. ... Haddadi played just over nine minutes, his first game action since coming to the Suns, and had two rebounds and four fouls. . O’Neal left the team to be with his 13-year-old daughter, who is undergoing surgery to repair a leaking heart valve. . The Suns’ 29 turnovers were a team high at US Airways Center.