Bargnani returns, lifts Toronto over PhoenixJan 25, 2012 - 7:21 AM Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - Andrea Bargnani returned from a prolonged absence to net a season-high 36 points as the Raptors downed the Suns, 99-96, on Tuesday.
Bargnani, who missed the previous six games with a strained left calf, scored 27 points in the second half and hit a pair of crucial free throws down the stretch.
"I was out of rhythm in the first quarter, but I have to give credit to my teammates; they kept looking for me," said Bargnani.
Former Sun Leandro Barbosa added 19 points and James Johnson had 18 and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who halted an eight-game losing streak.
Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 12 boards for the Suns, losers of seven of their last nine. Steve Nash finished with 17 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds, and Hakim Warrick chipped in 17 points off the bench.
"No one's gonna throw in the towel," said Suns coach Alvin Gentry. "I'm not gonna allow that from a player's standpoint or a coach's standpoint."
The Raptors trailed 52-48 at the half, but Bargnani was virtually unstoppable in the third. He nearly outscored the Suns by himself, pouring in 18 on 6-of-9 shooting with four treys, compared to 19 points for Phoenix. The outburst helped Toronto to a 79-71 advantage heading into the fourth.
The lead was 92-83 on a Jose Calderon layup with three minutes remaining when the Suns made a desperate surge. Nash scored four straight with a pair of driving layups before Calderon missed a 15-footer. But Channing Frye and Nash both missed threes on the Suns' next touch, and Bargnani appeared to plunge the dagger, driving to his right and hitting a fadeaway baseline jumper to make it 94-87 with 42 seconds left.
Refusing to fade, the Suns responded with a Jared Dudley trey. Nash then followed two Linas Kleiza free throws with a layup and Dudley stole the ball out of a Toronto inbounds and finished a runout jam to cut the deficit to 96-94 with 23 ticks remaining.
They would get no closer, however, as Bargnani hit a pair from the stripe and Nash missed a high-arching layup on the other end. Calderon made 1-of-2 free throws to seal the Raptors' win, their first over the Suns in 15 tries.
The last time Toronto won in this series was a 101-94 victory on the road back on February 10, 2004...The Suns have dropped three straight home games...Gortat has grabbed 12 or more rebounds in six consecutive games for the first time in his career...Dudley appeared in his 201st consecutive game with the Suns, the longest streak by a Phoenix player since Joe Johnson had 275-straight appearances from 2002-05.
- TORONTO: 99
Jan 24 11:32 PM
- TORONTO: 79
End of 3rd
Jan 24 10:50 PM
- TORONTO: 48
Jan 24 10:10 PM
- TORONTO: 17
End of 1st
Jan 24 9:38 PM
- TORONTO: 2
1st Quarter - 10:55
Jan 24 9:13 PM
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