Lowry collects 5,000th career assist as Toronto Raptors edge Phoenix Suns

Raptors 111, Suns 109

TORONTO — Pascal Siakam drove to the basket for the winning bucket with no time remaining as the Toronto Raptors, despite squandering an early 16-point lead, hung on to edge the Phoenix Suns 111-109 on Thursday.

Kyle Lowry had 16 points and collected his 5,000th career assist for the Raptors. Lowry and Serge Ibaka, who finished with 22 points, turned it on in the fourth quarter but the Suns refused to go away.

After a Devin Booker three-pointer gave the Suns a 107-105 lead, Siakam sank two free throws to tie it with 1:16 remaining. A Raptors defensive stop and Ibaka hook shot made it 109-107 Toronto.

Kelly Oubre Jr. missed his shot but an Ibaka foul sent Mikal Bridges to the line with 13 seconds left. He made both.

A Toronto timeout set the stage for Siakam’s heroics. He finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Toronto (34-13) was without Kawhi Leonard (rest), Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) and OG Anunoby (personal). They did not miss a thing of beauty.

Six Raptors finished in double figures as Toronto bounced back from a 117-108 loss in Boston on Wednesday.

That loss snapped the Raptors’ five-game win streak. But they kept another run going as they notched their eighth straight win at home since losing a 104-99 decision to Milwaukee on Dec. 9.

Booker led Phoenix (11-35) with 30 points.

After leading by as much as 16 in the second quarter, Toronto was outscored 29-20 in the third and went into the final quarter trailing 78-77. The Raptors shot 7-for-22 in the third.

Phoenix’s Josh Jackson was ejected in the fourth quarter for a second technical. He had sparked the Suns offence with five points in the quarter, finishing with seven.

The second technical came with a flagrant foul, allowing Toronto to run its lead to 92-87. The Raps retained possession and Lowry sank a three-pointer to rub salt into the wound in a 9-0 run.

Lowry had originally been ruled out of the game for rest purposes but was pronounced fit to play before tipoff. Lowry, who only recently came back from a sore back, spent his time on the bench lying on his back rather than in a seat.

He came into the game needing just six assists to reach 5,000 for his career. He collected No. 6 in the fourth quarter, feeding Serge Ibaka for a bucket. Lowry finished with eight assists.

The only other active players to have reached that milestone are Chris Paul, LeBron James, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondon, Russell Westbrook, Dwayne Wade, John Wall, former Raptor Jose Calderon and Raymond Felton.

C.J. Miles had been listed as questionable with a sore hip but was able to play. He finished with 13 points.

Toronto started Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Danny Green, Siakam and Ibaka, a lineup that had gone 4-0 this season. The Raptors have used 14 different starting lineups this season, compared to 12 all last season.

The Raptors have routinely sat Leonard, who scored 33 points against Boston, for one half of back-to-back games.

An 11-0 run in the first quarter put the Raptors up 21-11. Miles, who had been averaging 4.7 points a game, contributed seven points in three minutes as Toronto led 32-20 at the end of the quarter.

Toronto backup centre Greg Monroe, averaging 5.2 points a night, picked up the slack with six points in a second quarter that saw the Raptors stretch the lead to 41-25. A 7-0 Suns run cut into the Toronto advantage but the Raptors led 57-49 at the half.

While Phoenix only shot 38.3 per cent in the first half — compared to 60 per cent for Toronto — 11 offensive rebounds led to a 19-6 Suns advantage in second-chance points.

A 9-2 run to open the second half brought Phoenix to within one at 59-58. The Suns tied it up at 67-67 on a Bridges’ three-pointer midway through the quarter.

Toronto’s offence went cold and Phoenix pulled ahead 76-75 with 1:45 remaining in the third, its first lead since 11-10 in the opening quarter.

Toronto had not lost on consecutive days since Dec. 26-27, 2017 (at Dallas and Oklahoma City). Since then it has split nine back-to-back sets and swept nine.

The Raptors only have three more scheduled back-to-backs left, fewest in the NBA.

It was a matchup between the second and 27th-placed teams in the league.

The Suns opened a four-game road trip with a 133-97 defeat in Indiana on Tuesday in a game that saw the Pacers lead by 37 at one point. The Suns have lost 11 of their last 14 and are a dismal 4-18 on the road.

Patrick McCaw, signed a free agent Jan. 10, made his Raptors debut off the bench in the second quarter. He did not score in six minutes.

It was the Raptors’ 12th annual Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation night with more than 300 members of the military and their families in attendance. A pre-game presentation recognized Lieut.-Gen. Jean-Marc Lanthier, commander of the Canadian Army.

NOTES: The Raptors host Memphis on Saturday as their three-game homestand continues … Toronto’s Danny Green arrived at the game wearing the pyjamas that teammate C.J. Miles made popular in a “CJ’s PJs” TV spoof ad for GoDaddy … Veteran Suns forward Jamal Crawford, one game away from 1,300, sat out the game with a sore left knee … Phoenix signed former Raptor forward Quincy Acy to a second-10 day contract Thursday.

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