TORONTO — Nick Nurse took a flier with a 20-minute rap-on-the-knuckle speech before his Toronto Raptors debut before facing the Phoenix Suns on Friday.

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His gamble paid off. Led by Gary Trent Jr., who matched his season high with 35 points, the Raptors snapped a two-game losing streak with a 113–104 victory.

The Raptors have lost eight of their last 10 entering the contest and after their latest loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, Nurse felt his team needed to improve in several areas, giving a pre-game lecture .


“It’s not the easiest decision in the world when you’re going to have one of those sessions,” admitted the nurse. “I think you’re rolling the dice a bit, and this is a roll of the dice that came out.”

Nurse told his team, among other things, that he wanted more speed, better execution and more effort.

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“Part of it was technical stuff today, it doesn’t matter,” said Nurse. “It’s like 0.05 percent if not the effort.”

The win in their final game of 2022 capped off a disappointing month in which the Raptors went 5-10 in December.

Raptors rookie center Christian Colocco said, “The message was that we just had to play harder.” “We have to play harder. We watched a lot of clips from the last game. We didn’t play with any effort.

“Today, we started the game, and we were playing really good defense. We were really offensive. Everybody was doing a good job. Every time we play like that, we have a good chance to win the game. “

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But the result was still in doubt late in the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 101, Scottie Barnes drilled a three-pointer with 3:16 remaining, followed by a three by Coloko with 1:27 to go, giving Toronto a six-point lead.

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Koloko was an unlikely go-to guy on the play, but the Suns guarded heavily on Trent and Pascal Siakam. Siakam found Koloko in the corner for his first three-pointer in eight attempts this season.

“He saw me,” said Koloko. “To be honest, he didn’t have a choice, because I think there were two men in front of him.

“I knew as soon as I saw my guy standing around the corner (away), he was going to make it to me. After the timeout I told him, ‘You got me to believe you on that last pass. But trusted, I appreciate it. It’s the end of the game, and I’m not put in that position every day.”

The win before 19,800 at Scotiabank Arena also broke a five-game home skid.

Siam scored 26 points, Ozzie Anunobi scored 16 and Barnes scored 11 points for Toronto.

The Suns lost their second straight match and were led by Chris Paul’s 20 points and 12 assists. Mikal Bridges added 21 and Torrey Craig added 13 points.

The Raptors held an 86–79 advantage after three quarters. But Bridges followed up with a three-pointer to give the Suns a 99–97 lead with 4:41 remaining.

Toronto held a 33–24 lead after the first quarter, only to see the visitors go on a 12–0 run to start the second quarter and take a 34–33 lead.

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But Siakam, Anunobi and Trent combined for a 16-5 run for the Raptors to give them the lead with less than four minutes left in the first half.

However, the Suns came out strong to ensure that Toronto only held a 53–51 advantage going into the locker room.

The Raptors were without All-Star guards Fred VanVleet (back spasm) and Precious Achiuva (ankle). The Suns were missing stars Devin Booker (groin strain), Cameron Johnson (ankle), Cameron Payne (foot) and Landry Schmett (Achilles).

Armstrong Honored

Analyst Jack Armstrong was recognized during the second quarter timeout for his 25th year with the Raptors. The 59-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native has been a part of the team’s broadcasts since the 1998-99 season.


The Raptors begin the new year on the road against the Indiana Pacers on Monday and return home for a season-high six-game homestand, starting with the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 30, 2022.

By Rahul

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