Suns end Raptors’ home winning streak with big help from the bench
TORONTO — Gerald Green is back from the kind of "vacation" that no NBA player likes to take.
Markieff Morris had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Green scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and the Phoenix Suns won their second straight game, beating the Toronto Raptors 121-113 on Sunday.
Green had joked about being on vacation after scoring just six points in his previous two games, missing 17 of 23 field goal attempts. He had previously scored 10 points or more in a career-best 15 straight games.
"He came in yesterday to practice, worked on his shots and he told us all he was back from his little mini-vacation," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "When Gerald plays like that, he gets unstoppable. He can make all kinds of shots and I think our guys feed off that when he’s rolling."
Green scored 13 points in the opening quarter and shot 9 of 18 attempts, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
"As soon as we came to the locker room, Coach said `Welcome back, Gerald," Suns guard Goran Dragic said with a laugh.
Dragic scored 19 points, Eric Bledsoe had 14 and P.J. Tucker 11 for the Suns, who had lost three of four before winning 87-80 at Boston on Friday.
Bench scoring was a big edge for Phoenix, whose reserves outscored Toronto’s 59-11.
Almost half that total came from Green, a starter for much of this season until Bledsoe returned from a 33-game absence following knee surgery.
"I had to just keep trying to do what I was doing as a starter," Green said of adjusting to his reserve role. "Today I just tried to be a little bit more aggressive. I didn’t really turn down shots today."
Phoenix will seek to wrap up a perfect three-game road trip when it visits Brooklyn on Monday night.
"We dropped a couple of games at home that we really needed," Tucker said. "This road trip is definitely going to make us or break us (as far as) continuing our playoff push. Hopefully we get this last one and go back home and try to get a few more."
Kyle Lowry had 28 points and 13 assists, and Terrence Ross scored 22 points as Toronto lost at home for the first time since a triple-overtime defeat to Washington on Feb. 27, snapping a four-game winning streak at Air Canada Centre.
Lowry briefly received treatment on the court after he was twice kneed in the head by Tucker during a scramble for a loose ball in the final two minutes. Bledsoe dunked on the play as Lowry was left lying outside the paint, clutching his head. Lowry stayed in the game following a Toronto timeout.
Lowry insisted he was "fine," but acknowledged it had been a painful episode.
"I got kneed in the head, bad," Lowry told a crowd of reporters and television cameras surrounding his locker after the game. "I’ve got a headache right now. This (television) light is killing me."
Raptors coach Dwane Casey called the play "concerning" but reiterated that his star guard did not appear seriously injured.
Amir Johnson scored 20 points, DeMar DeRozan had 17 and Jonas Valanciunas 15 as the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors lost for the first time in three games. Toronto had won eight of 10 and 11 of 14 coming in.
The Raptors fell to 14-13 against Western Conference opponents. Toronto needs one win in its final three games against the West to ensure its first .500 record against the conference since the 1999-00 season. Toronto visits New Orleans on March 19, hosts Oklahoma City on March 21 and Houston on April 2.
Green scored five points and Markieff Morris had four as the Suns opened the fourth with an 11-2 run to lead 107-92 with 7:26 remaining.
Phoenix called timeout after Lowry converted a three-point play with 4:08 left, cutting the deficit to 114-107. After the stoppage, Marcus Morris tipped in his brother’s missed shot to halt a 6-0 Toronto run, and the Raptors didn’t challenge again.
Valanciunas scored 13 points in the first and Ross had 11 for Toronto, but Green came off the bench to score 13 points in six minutes, hitting three of Phoenix’s seven 3-pointers, as the Suns led 37-35 after one.
Toronto missed its first eight field goal attempts of the second quarter and trailed 59-49 after a 3 by Dragic with 2:44 left in the opening half. Ross scored seven points as the Raptors cut the gap to 61-59 at the intermission.
Lowry scored 17 points in the third but Bledsoe had 10 for the Suns, all of them at the free throw line, as Phoenix took a 96-90 lead into the fourth.
"One of our best third quarters of the year," Dragic said.
NOTES: Phoenix outrebounded Toronto 45-26. … DeRozan missed his first seven shot attempts. … Toronto F Patrick Patterson (right elbow) missed his fifth straight game and will be re-evaluated Monday, Casey said. … Amir Johnson recorded his 406th block with Toronto, breaking a tie with Antonio Davis and taking sole possession of third place on the team’s career list.