Raps get schooled

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

Any chance the Raptors were feeling a little too good about themselves left with the Phoenix Suns charter last night.

Having outclassed the Charlotte Bobcats with their best three players watching in street clothes two nights earlier, the still undermanned Raptors had their lunch handed to them by the Suns last night.

The Raptors stuck around for about a half on the strength of what would have been a good-enough-to-win shooting night against just about any other NBA club, only to see the Suns trump their 55% accuracy from the field with a 59% night of their own in a 136-123 Phoenix win.

"Threes killed us, layups killed us, they just beat us," Raps head coach Sam Mitchell said. "We just have to get up on guys. Our transition defence was just horrible. I mean the first four threes (Leandro) Barbosa made, we weren't near him. It's just lack of communication. You have to pick up an open man when you play this team. If you can switch back, you do. If not, you just guard them as best you can and if it's a mismatch you trap ... You just don't watch a guy shoot. They're a better basketball team than we are right now."

As hard as it had to be for Mitchell to watch, this was a game those who love offence would want to tape and keep for posterity. Both teams set season highs for points in a game while neither team shot less than 50% from the field in any of the four quarters. Steve Nash was the distributer instead of scorer last night, finishing with a season-high 18 assists. Barbosa set a Raptors opponent record scoring 35 points off the bench.

Suns head coach Mike D'Antoni summed up the evening in five words.

"Offensively we were just awesome," he said.

So good in fact, that it was hard for anyone not named Mitchell to even get overly upset about this one.

"They played extremely well and when they are shooting the ball that well you don't want to give them layups and baskets in the paint, but at the same time Steve Nash is penetrating and you take one thing away and they hit another," Raps shooting guard Anthony Parker said. "You just have to tip your hat to them and keep going."

The Raptors managed to keep this one close into the third quarter but once the Suns went off for 45 points in that third frame, the second highest third quarter by a Raptors opponent in team history, this one was all but over.

Normally when the Suns are spanking their opponents the way they did the Raps last night, it's one of Nash, Stoudemire or Shawn Marion administering the punishment.

Last night it was a heavy dose of Barbosa, with a solid helping of Stoudemire, that carried the night for the Suns. Barbosa hit for 35 points on 14-for-23 shooting including five threes while Stoudemire was even more efficient, hitting on nine of 11 attempts for 25 points.

The Raps couldn't match the Suns in the three-point shooting department either as they were outscored 39-30 from three-point range, Raja Bell hitting four in the third quarter alone.

T.J. Ford, the lone returnee from the big three who sat out Monday's game, led all Raptors with 27 points, followed by Parker's 22.


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