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Busy Suns visit well-rested Raptors
TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors have played the fewest home games in the NBA this season, but they have made the most of them.
They own the best home record in the league, taking an 8-1 mark at the Air Canada Centre into their game Tuesday night against the visiting Phoenix Suns.
The Raptors (14-7) will be well rested. They have not played since Friday, when they defeated the Indiana Pacers 120-1115.
Meanwhile, the Suns (9-16) played Monday night, defeating the 76ers 115-101 at Philadelphia with Devin Booker scoring a season-best 46 points.
The Tuesday contest will end a six-game road trip for the Suns, who are 2-3 in the first five games and are 5-7 on the road overall. Phoenix has won its past two games in Toronto.
Suns interim head coach Jay Triano became the first Canadian-born head coach in the NBA when he took over the Raptors in 2008, going 87-142 before his tenure ended in 2011. The Suns are 9-13 since Triano took over from Earl Watson on Oct. 22.
The three days off in the schedule gave the Raptors some time to rest, recuperate and practice. They will be playing only their third game in eight days on Tuesday.
"It seems like, 'Oh, you should just go out and practice,' but it's harder because you've got to make sure you manage the rest, manage your legs, manage the energy the guys expend," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Monday. "You can't treat it like a training camp (and try to) get away with the gift the schedule is giving you."
The Raptors are aware of the Suns' tough recent schedule.
"You see that," Casey said. "We understand the schedule, how many games and the number of days. You try to watch that, but we've got to take care of who we are. This team has come in the last couple of years and beat us and at the time they weren't playing particularly well. One time we had them on a back-to-back and we didn't come in and take care of business."
Raptors reserve center Jakob Poeltl, who scored a career-best 18 points on Friday, was ill Monday and was sent home from practice. His status for Tuesday was uncertain. He shot 8 of 8 from the field against the Pacers, missing only from the free-throw line, where he was 2 of 5. He also grabbed six rebounds in 25 minutes.
Raptors guard Kyle Lowry had Monday off to tend to personal business, something that had been arranged a few weeks ago. He will play on Tuesday.
The Raptors will have to find a way to stop Booker.
The 21-year-old guard overcame a slow start against the Sixers, missing nine of his first 10 shots, as the Suns won for only the second time in their past seven games.
"Shooters never stop shooting," Booker said. "I've been living by that motto since I was 3 years old."
Booker finished 17 of 32 from the floor, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. He scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers, in a 16-3 run late in the game.
"He gets that look," Triano said, "and it doesn't matter how closely you guard him, it doesn't matter who guards him -- he just finds a way to create space and be electric."
Booker said, "I know there's more things I have to work on. Turn around this franchise, start to get wins and make the playoffs. Whatever I have to do to do that, I'm with it."
The Suns won both their games against the Raptors last season.
Toronto has scored 100 or more points in nine consecutive games (Nov. 14- Dec. 1) and is averaging 113.3 points during that span. The Raptors have scored 100 or more points in 10 or more consecutive games three times in franchise history -- 20 (Jan. 6-Feb. 20, 2010), 16 (Nov. 21-Dec. 23, 2016) and 12 (Feb. 28-March 20, 2016).
Updated December 5, 2017