Injuries can make it tough to battle in the post. Phoenix Suns star Amare Stoudemire needed a few weeks to get into a grove, and now Chris Bosh is missing games for the Toronto Raptors for the first time this season.
With Stoudemire coming off his most dominant performance since offseason knee surgery, the Suns look to win their seventh straight against the undermanned Raptors when the teams meet for the first time this season Wednesday night.
Stoudemire has settled down after struggling in the first week of the season, missing three games in that stretch after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Oct. 2. He’s coming off his best outing since then, scoring a season-high 42 points and matching a season best with 13 rebounds to lead Phoenix (14-4) to a 121-117 win over Indiana on Tuesday night.
“I felt real good, felt strong,” he said. “I just played my game. I took whatever the defense gave me, whether it was a jump shot or an easy layup or two. I just played my style of game.”
The All-Star center is averaging 26.7 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 59.2 percent from the floor in his last six games, and has a double-double in a season-best three straight contests. The Suns are averaging 111.2 points in winning 11 of their last 13 games.
Pacific Division-leading Phoenix has posted 112.3 points per game en route to winning its last six against Toronto (10-8). The Raptors haven’t beaten the Suns since a 101-94 victory at Phoenix on Feb. 10, 2004.
“If we beat them it will be because we played our game,” Raptors guard Carlos Delfino told the team’s official Web site. “Their game is running up the court all the time, being unselfish, passing the ball, but also not taking too much care of the ball. They play the risk game.”
Toronto couldn’t beat Phoenix when healthy, and now it’s missing Bosh (groin) and Andrea Bargnani (knee) in the frontcourt. This will be the fourth straight game the Raptors will play without Bosh, who is averaging a team-best 18.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, but they have gone 2-1 without their franchise player so far.
Bargnani, the top overall pick in the 2006 draft, will miss his second straight game. The 6-foot-10 forward is averaging 11.9 points while shooting 45.2 percent from 3-point range.
The Raptors, however, will be getting slightly healthier with point guard T.J. Ford returning after missing a 98-79 win over Charlotte on Monday night. Ford has played in just two of Toronto’s last seven games after getting a stinger in his left arm in a Nov. 20 collision with Dallas’ Josh Howard.
Toronto has won four straight at home after losing four of its previous six there. Phoenix, meanwhile, is 2-0 during its current five-game stretch on the road, where it is 8-2 on the season.
This will be two-time league MVP Steve Nash’s lone game this season in his native Canada. Nash had 18 points and 17 assists on Tuesday, and leads the league with 11.4 assists per game.