Suns try to continue dominance over Raptors

The Phoenix Suns have to be happy that the Toronto Raptors are on the docket next, as the two clubs clash tonight in the desert.

Phoenix has won 14 straight and 16 of the last 19 meetings between the two teams and is unbeaten in the last seven matchups in the Valley of the Sun. The last time Toronto won in this series was a 101-94 victory on the road back on Feb. 10, 2004.

The Suns could use more matchups against the Raptors and have lost six of their last eight games, including Monday's 93-87 setback at Dallas in the finale of a five-game road trip (2-3). Grant Hill and Marcin Gortat had 19 points apiece to lead the Suns, who had a two-game winning streak stopped. Shannon Brown contributed 14 points off the bench, while Gortat grabbed 17 rebounds, Steve Nash had 12 assists and rookie Markieff Morris had a career- high 11 boards.

"We started kinda slow," said Gortat, who has posted eight straight double- doubles. "We started to play better and better with each quarter, but honestly, it was a tough loss. We really believed that we could win this game, and being honest with you, we got to change something. We can't start games like that."

The Suns have dropped two straight at home and are 3-4 as the host. Gortat has grabbed 12 or more rebounds in five consecutive games for the first time in his career. Jared Dudley will appear in his 201st consecutive game tonight with the Suns, the longest streak by a Suns player since Joe Johnson had 275- straight appearances from 2002-05.

Phoenix will play three of the next four games on its own turf.

Toronto has dropped eight in a row and 10 of its last 11 games. It opened a five-game road trip with a 103-91 loss against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center, as Leandro Barbosa and Linas Kleiza ended with 19 and 16 points, respectively, for the Raptors.

DeMar DeRozan tallied 15 points and eight rebounds in defeat.

"We compete harder in practice than we do to start the games," Toronto head coach Dwane Casey said.

The Raptors will also make stops at Utah, Denver and New Jersey and are only 2-8 away from Air Canada Centre this season. They have dropped six in a row as the visitor. Star forward Andrea Bargnani has missed six consecutive games (Jan. 13-22) due to a strained left calf and remains day-to-day.

DeRozan is averaging 13.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in 10 road games.