Raptors 121, Suns 100

This preseason has been an exercise in getting to know each
other for the retooled Phoenix Suns. And with just over a week left
in the exhibition schedule, they’re still getting comfortable with
each other.

Linas Kleiza scored 23 points, Jarrett Jack and Amir Johnson had
17 apiece and the Toronto Raptors beat the Suns 121-100 in a
preseason game Sunday.

Sonny Weems added 16 points for Toronto, Andrea Bargnani had 15
and DeMar DeRozan 14.

Steve Nash led Phoenix with 16 points, adding a team-high seven
rebounds and six assists, as the Suns lost for the fifth time in
six preseason games.

After losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference
finals, Phoenix added Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress and Hakim
Warrick over the summer, and saw Amare Stoudemire leave for the New
York Knicks.

Nash said building team cohesion is the biggest task facing the
Suns in the eight days left before they open the regular season at
Portland on Oct. 26.

”We’ve got a lot of new guys and trying to fit them in is going
to take time,” Nash said. ”We like to play a certain way and I
think it’s an adjustment for the new guys. We have to find that
cohesion because that’s what makes us successful, understanding our
spots and our spacing.”

Hakim Warrick scored 14, Jason Richardson and Josh Childress
each had 12, and Grant Hill added 10 for Phoenix, which has dropped
three straight since beating Dallas on Oct. 9.

Suns coach Alvin Gentry said he’s confident his starting five
will be ready for the regular season, but the bench players may
need longer to fit into their roles.

”Our bench was a huge strength for us last year,” Gentry said.
”Right now we don’t have a combination of guys who are playing
very good. We have to work out a situation where our bench is
playing better or we’re going have to shorten the rotation until we
feel comfortable.”

The Suns have allowed 100 points or more in all five of their
preseason defeats.

”Our defense was a huge part of our success last year,” Nash
said. ”If we want to get back to the playoffs and hopefully
challenge for a championship, our defense has to be really good.
We’re not there yet. We’ve got a lot of work.”

Bargnani had struggled with his shooting in Toronto’s first five
games, going 16 for 64, but was better Sunday, making five of his
first six and finishing 7 for 12 from the field.

Raptors forward Reggie Evans had 12 rebounds and Johnson had 11
as the Raptors outrebounded the Suns 57-38.

Toronto trailed by 11 points after one quarter, but closed the
gap in the second, outscoring Phoenix 31-22 and getting within
55-53 at the half.

The Raptors kept it up in the third, shooting 15 of 29. DeRozan
scored eight points and Jack had seven as Toronto took a 92-79 lead
into the fourth quarter.

Turkoglu, traded from Toronto to Phoenix this summer after one
disappointing season with the Raptors, was booed during pregame
introductions and every time he touched the ball. Turkoglu, who
scored five points, jokingly booed fans sitting courtside as he
checked in at the scorer’s table during the second quarter.

”I didn’t get much love when I was here, too,” Turkoglu said.
”It’s normal, now I’m not here, to get the boos.”

Toronto beat Phoenix 129-78 in its preseason opener, Oct. 6 in
Vancouver, British Columbia, and Nash said the boos for Turkoglu
were louder in that game. Gentry agreed.

”I think it was a lot tougher in Vancouver,” Gentry said. ”I
don’t know if word travels all the way across Canada or what, but
they were pretty tough on him in Vancouver.”

NOTES: Raptors C David Andersen (sore back) did not play. …
Haywoode Workman, an eight-year NBA veteran who played 13 games for
Toronto in the 1999-2000 season, was part of the officiating
crew.