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.