Suns defeat Raptors 114-106; Bridges scores a game-high 29 points

January 31, 2023

The Phoenix Suns pulled away for another victory, forcing Deandre Ayton to do a double-take in the dying seconds.


His eyes weren’t deceiving him. Instead of injured All-Star guard Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges scored significant midrange goals during pivotal fourth-quarter possessions.


The Suns defeated the Toronto Raptors 114-106 on Monday night to win their sixth game in a row. Bridges had one of his greatest games of the season with 29 points, Ayton combined 22 points and 13 rebounds, and it was the Suns’ sixth victory in seven games.


“You know what’s crazy?” I said to Booker. These are your plays,” Ayton jokingly remarked to his teammate. “Now, these are Mikal’s plays.”


Even though Booker has been out for the previous few weeks, the Suns are on a roll. The 6-foot-6 Bridges has always been a reliable player, primarily renowned for his defense and 3-point shooting. Still, with Booker sidelined with a groin injury, he has evolved into the team’s top-scoring option.


Over his previous nine games, the fifth-year player has averaged 23 points, which has coincided with the Suns’ comeback from a protracted midseason slump. Against the Raptors, he made 3 of 4 three-pointers while shooting 12 of 19 from the floor.


Guard Chris Paul of the Suns stated, “I’m liking it.” It’s a confidence issue, and it keeps getting better.


There were 16 lead changes and five ties throughout the game; neither team held an advantage of more than 10 points.


The Raptors were trailing by nine points at the start of the second half, but they scored 12 straight points in the third quarter’s first two and half minutes to take the lead 65-62. Toronto led 84-82 heading into the fourth.


After that, the game was evenly contested until Phoenix started to gain an advantage in the last minutes. Before Paul’s 3-pointer, Bridges scored a pair of crucial jump shots to give the Suns a 106-102 lead with 1:30 remaining. With 51.4 seconds left, Ayton added a tip-in to increase the lead to 108-102.


Paul had 19 points and nine rebounds in the end.


Raptors guard Fred VanVleet stated, “They threw some shots in that we needed to miss.” “Give them credit; we battled hard and competed.”


VanVleet led Toronto with an average of 24 points and nine assists. Pascal Siakam scored 19 points, and Gary Trent Jr. added 21.


Nick Nurse, the Raptors’ head coach, remarked, “We were playing pretty hard, really good.” We could have made some adjustments to strengthen our rebounding, but it didn’t bounce our way when it was necessary.


Bridges led the Suns to a 62-53 halftime lead with 23 points on 9 of 12 shooting.


“I felt it,” Bridges said. “The crowd was getting on top of me. Our bench and the audience. Both of them gave it to me.”

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