Raptors open five-game road trip against Pistons

A six-game winning streak for the Toronto Raptors was snapped on Tuesday. They’ll look to begin a new one at the front end of a five-game road swing, which begins in Detroit on Friday.Phoenix, which owns the league’s best record, edged the Raptors 99-95 in an empty arena due to COVID restrictions in Canada. The Raptors will see plenty of fans on their eight-day journey.Toronto’s point total against the Suns was its lowest since scoring 90 points in a victory over the New York Knicks on Dec. 10. The Raptors led by one until Devin Booker hit a mid-range jumper with 1:07 left. A Chris Paul basket gave Phoenix a three-point lead and six free throws in the last 6.5 seconds ended Toronto’s streak.”That’s probably as good as it gets without a crowd in there,” guard Fred VanVleet said. “They certainly raised their level. There’s a reason why they have the best record in the NBA; it’s because they play that way every night. I thought that we answered the call. I thought it was a good test for us. Obviously, we didn’t come out with the victory, but you appreciate the fight.”VanVleet has been on a scoring tear, averaging 29.6 points in the last nine games. The Suns held him to 21 points on 7-of-18 shooting.”It was a physical game, kind of slow-paced and grinding,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “I thought they were definitely trying to out-physical us and we hung in there really good. It could probably have gone either way.”The Raptors were missing fourth-leading scorer Gary Trent Jr. (16.4 points per game) and fifth-leading scorer Scottie Barnes (14.7) due to injuries.”We didn’t have Scottie, we didn’t have Gary — those are two big pieces for us — but we hung in there,” forward Chris Boucher said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well. There’s a lot of things that didn’t go our way, but we still figured out a way to stay in the game.”The Pistons were blown out by Chicago 133-87 on Tuesday, one night after rallying from a 22-point deficit to defeat Utah 126-116. The Bulls outscored them 72-35 in the second half. In Detroit’s last three losses, the margins have been 29, 30 and 46 points.

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