Banged-up Raptors take on Suns

NBA
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Two teams on three-game losing streaks will clash Tuesday night when the Toronto Raptors visit the Phoenix Suns.

The Raptors have won five in a row over the Suns, including a 118-101 victory at home on Feb. 21. Toronto has won its past two games in Phoenix.

Both teams have been playing without key regulars. The Raptors were missing Marc Gasol (hamstring), Fred VanVleet (shoulder) and Serge Ibaka (knee) in their 133-118 loss to the Denver Nuggets Sunday in the opener of a five-game road trip.

The Suns were without Kelly Oubre Jr. (knee) when they lost 115-99 to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday in the third game of a six-game homestand.

The Raptors have thrived despite dealing with injuries all season, but the most recent injuries are taking a toll because Ibaka and Gasol are their centers and they have no one to replace their quality.

“I just think it seems like it catches up with you just a little bit here and there, and that’s kind of just the difference in tonight’s game,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said after the game Sunday. “Like, there’s a putback here and putback there and just some pretty easy offense when (Nikola Jokic) just goes down and parks in front of the rim and they throw it into him. There’s not much we can do because of the sheer size and strength of it.”

The Raptors have not lost four in a row in the regular season since January 2017.

The Raptors received 32 points and seven steals — both career bests — from OG Anunoby on Sunday.

“We’ve put him on some really good players here lately,” Nurse said. “He starts (Sunday) on Jokic, a little bit unorthodox to do, but he’s taking the challenge of trying to be the guy that’s going to be that defensive stopper we need him to be.”

Pascal Siakam, however, was limited to 16 points on 6-for-21 shooting while committing four turnovers Sunday. He had 37 points and 12 rebounds against Phoenix last month.

The Suns blew an 18-point lead to Golden State on Saturday.

“We have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves because of the injuries, whatever the case may be,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “Thinking we don’t have enough — we have enough. We had an 18-point lead in this game if I recall. We showed that we can start out, get a big lead. We just stopped doing what it took to get that lead. We gave those guys confidence. … For whatever reason, we are just not playing with the effort it takes to overcome what we don’t have.”

Oubre, who has missed three consecutive games, is averaging a career-best 18.7 points per game.

“I’ve been saying since Day 1 he’s kind of the heart of the team,” Suns point guard Ricky Rubio said recently. “He brings a lot, and not just scoring. He brings energy, momentum. Good energy and he just, on and off the court, helps us.”

Toronto limited Oubre to 11 points in the first meeting between the teams this season.

Frank Kaminsky III (right patella stress fracture) has missed the past 29 games for the Suns.

–Field Level Media

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