Linas Kleiza leads way with 23 points as Raptors clobber Suns - Metro US

Linas Kleiza leads way with 23 points as Raptors clobber Suns

TORONTO — During the second half Sunday, the switch went on for the Toronto Raptors and the energy level went up.

They took control of the pre-season game and cruised to a 121-100 victory over the Phoenix Suns before a crowd of 12,902 at Air Canada Centre that lustily booed Suns forward Hedo Turkoglu, who put in an uninspired season with Toronto last year.

“Our guys had a lot more energy,” Raptors head coach Jay Triano said. “Midway through the first half we found something and guys picked it up a little bit and started pressuring a little more.”

The Raptors (3-3) had six players score in double figures led by 23 from Linas Kleiza followed by 17 each from Amir Johnson and Jarrett Jack.

Sonny Weems added 16, Andrea Bargnani 15 and DeMar DeRozan 14 points for the Raptors, who trailed by 33-22 after the first quarter and 55-53 at the half.

Steve Nash of Victoria led the Suns (1-5) with 16 points, six assists and seven rebounds while Hakim Warrick had 14 points and Jason Richardson and Josh Childress each chipped in with 12.

The Raptors also beat the Suns 129-78 in Vancouver on Oct. 6.

Turkoglu, traded to Phoenix over the summer for Leandro Barbosa, had five points and five rebounds in 20 minutes and was booed each time he touched the ball. Not a nice homecoming.

“Home?” Turkoglu said. “I have never had a home like this. Wherever you go some people like you and some people don’t. I wasn’t paying attention to that. I just tried to go out there and play my game and try to do my best.

“I didn’t get much love when I was here, too.”

Quipped Nash: “It wasn’t as bad as Vancouver.”

Turkoglu smiled after he made a three-pointer early in the third quarter that brought more boos, so it appeared as if he was having fun with the hostile reception.

“I do,” he said. “I always do, that’s me all my life.”

Said Jack: “Turk always has his sense of humour going. I’m sure he’s just going to shrug it off smile a little bit and go about his business.”

While the fans were getting on Turkoglu, the Raptors were finding their energy. Energy had been lacking for all but the fourth quarter in a loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday and it wasn’t there early in Sunday’s game.

“At the beginning of the game (the Suns) made a bunch of shots early on, where we got a little bit discouraged and we can’t do that,” Triano said. “We fought through it today, which we didn’t do the other night, so I was pleased with that.”

Johnson and Reggie Evans were big factors in the Raptors resurgence Sunday.

Johnson came off the bench and was 8-for-9 from the field and had 11 rebounds. Evans, who started, had seven points with 12 rebounds.

“The offence just kind of came to me,” Johnson said. “I was on the offensive boards a lot. Our team played hard today and we have to have that sense of urgency at the beginning of the season and carry it through the rest of the season.”

Johnson and Evans worked well together.

“We both like to go hard to the boards,” Johnson said. “And we both like body contact. It’s helpful when he’s in there bumping people and I’m in there bumping people at the same time, either him or I can get the offensive rebound.”

The Raptors know they’re going to need strong efforts in getting the dirty work done to have some success.

“We’ve got a young team,” said Kleiza who played in Greece last season after playing four seasons with the Denver Nuggets. “That’s going to be our key, that’s what we’ve got to do, play hard and we’re going to have a chance to be in a ball game and to win the game.”

Notes: The Raptors used the same starting lineup for the second game in a row and the third time in the pre-season — Bargnani, Jose Calderon, DeRozan, Evans and Kleiza. Triano said not to read much into it. “I just don’t think we’re going to commit to anything being set in stone,” he said. “We want our guys to work hard and compete for that spot or those who have a spot to keep wanting that spot.” … Raptors C David Andersen did not play Sunday because of tightness in his lower back. … The Raptors are home to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

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