Winning will help the Suns sleep a lot better. They won a game they had to have to keep alive their postseason hopes.
Playing 20 hours and 21 minutes after their triple-overtime loss in Los Angeles Tuesday night, the Suns didn't seem to have enough in the tank Wednesday, falling behind by 13 points late in the third quarter.
But backup point guard Aaron Brooks energized the team with nine of his 25 points over the final 2:30 of the third, and his 3-pointer with 54.9 seconds left in the game sealed the Suns' win.
"I just wanted to be aggressive, as Coach asked me to, and if the shot was there, take it," Brooks said. "We played hard. It was kind of hard. We got in late and we got it done."
The Suns took a 110-105 lead on Brooks' three from the left corner, and the Raptors couldn't recover despite 27 points from forward Andrea Bargnani. Phoenix (36-34) remained three games behind Memphis for the eighth and last Western Conference playoff spot and extended its winning streak over the Raptors to 14, the longest active win streak against an opponent.
The Suns were already at a disadvantage playing so soon after a long night. Then they lost starting guard Grant Hill to flulike symptoms and forward Mickael Pietrus to a sprained right knee before the first quarter was over, and neither returned.
Coach Alvin Gentry called it the Suns' best win of the year.
"After [Tuesday] night and the emotional drain, then coming away with nothing really tangible to show with the effort, I thought it was great to be able to come back and put in that kind of effort and win the game," Gentry said. "We told them we can't be tired. We take off more days than Johnny Carson did. There is no reason why we couldn't finish the game and be active."
The Raptors led for almost all of the first three quarters before Brooks helped tie the score at 86 going into the fourth quarter. Toronto (20-51) scored six straight points in 35 seconds to go up 103-97 with 4:25 to play, but a layup and blocked shot by Gortat set the stage for Brooks to hit the decisive three.
"We shoot a better percentage than them, we out-rebound them and they made 3-point shots, and that's what this team does," Raptors coach Jay Triano said.
The Raptors, with Indiana's win earlier in the evening, were officially eliminated from playoff contention. ... Major league baseball stars Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Vernon Wells (Los Angeles Angels) sat courtside at the game. ... The Suns' bench totaled 61 points, led by Brooks. ... The Suns' first lead of the game was 6-4 and they didn't take another lead until Frye's 3. ... The Suns extended their winning streak to 14 consecutive games over Toronto, their longest active victory streak over any opponent.
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