I'll be providing quarter-by-quarter updates throughout the playoff road games. Newest updates appear on top. Comments are now open for post-game discussion.
4th Quarter / Final
For the third time in five games during this series, the Phoenix Suns were clicking on all cylinders offensively. For the third time in five games, the result was a runaway victory over Portland. This one wasn't a total mirror image of Games 2 and 3, though, as Phoenix enjoyed balanced scoring -- including big contributions from its bench -- and a major rebounding advantage (41 to 29 overall) to create easy baskets that eventually overwhelmed the Blazers.
Portland squandered an excellent opportunity to steal this game. Through the first quarter or so this one had road theft written all over it: Portland couldn't miss from the field and the Suns had trouble keeping control of the ball. When it was all said and done, Phoenix finished the night shooting better and Portland finished with more turnovers.
Phoenix got huge contributions from reserves Channing Frye (20 points and 8 rebounds) and Jared Dudley (19 points including 5 three pointers) to go along with 14 and 10 dimes from Steve Nash and 19 and 5 rebounds from Amar'e Stoudemire. Throw in 13 and 8 boards from Jason Richardson and you get the idea.
The Blazers were led by 21 points, 4 boards and 4 assists from Andre Miller, 17 points from LaMarcus Aldridge (don't look at his rebounding numbers) and 17 points, 4 boards and 4 assists from Jerryd Bayless. Ultimately, Portland couldn't overcome just 13 combined points from Nicolas Batum, Brandon Roy, Rudy Fernandez and Martell Webster. Not enough weapons, simple as that. Foul trouble for Marcus Camby, Brandon Roy and Juwan Howard didn't help things either.
The series now stands at 3-2 Phoenix with Game 6 in Portland on Thursday night. It's win or go home time for the Blazers.
- Here's the Boxscore.
- Here's the Bright Side of the Sun recap.
- Here's Steve Nash's post-game audio courtesy of Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun.
- Here's Alvin Gentry's post-game audio courtesy of Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun.
- Here's Nate McMillan's post-game audio courtesy of Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun.
- Here's Channing Frye's post-game audio courtesy of Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter
This was a sloppy, choppy quarter, marred by plenty of whistles, which offered a good opportunity for the Blazers to chip away at Phoenix's double-digit halftime lead. Early on, Brandon Roy briefly snapped into attack mode and Jerryd Bayless (15 points through 3 quarters) paced Portland with his third three pointer and a basket going to the hoop.
As the quarter wore on and the fouls added up -- Marcus Camby picked up his 4th, Juwan Howard his 5th -- Portland's offensive execution ground to a halt. Tough, contested shots resulted as the Suns regularly double-teamed both LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy and no one else could make them pay.
Phoenix's starting backcourt had been quiet as Jason Richardson has scored just 2 points since the first quarter but Steve Nash took full advantage of Portland's foul situation, getting to the line 9 times through 3 quarters and sinking all 9 attempts. Nash also pushed tempo on occasion on his way to 14 points and 10 assists through three quarters. Thanks to Nash's passing, 4 Suns besides him are in double digits through 3 quarters.
Portland's bench as a whole -- and Rudy Fernandez in particular -- continue to struggle. In a two minute stretch near the end of the period that saw Phoenix bust the game open, Fernandez needlessly fouled Nash on the perimeter (giving away 2 free throws), lost Nash for an open 3 pointer (which he made), threw a pass into the fourth row (souvenir!) and launched an ill-advised three pointer (which he missed). For some reason, Martell Webster has barely seen the court tonight.
It would take a minor miracle for the Blazers to come back from their current deficit given how poorly they've rebounded (Suns lead 33-25) and how stagnant their offense has become. This one has Game 3 replay written all over it.
The Blazers were as cold to start the second period as they were hot to start the first, managing just 9 points in the first 6 minutes of the second quarter. Foul trouble was a major factor, as Brandon Roy and Juwan Howard each picked up 3 fouls early. While the Suns paraded to the free throw line, Nate McMillan was forced to go deep into his bench, calling on both Dante Cunningham and Rudy Fernandez. Cunningham looked like he has put a recent illness behind him, knocking down a mid-range jumper and cutting backdoor beautifully for a layup, both plays assisted by Marcus Camby. Fernandez, meanwhile, failed to look for a shot, much less take one, and was out-muscled on the defensive end during his 8 minutes.
The Suns continued their steady offensive assault thanks in large part to nice contributions from their bench. Channing Frye looks like a man on a mission, tallying 13 points in the half, including multiple dunks. Jared Dudley added a pair of 3 pointers and Goran Dragic got to the foul line numerous times; the Suns reserves closed the half outscoring their Portland counterparts 29-8. Phoenix also continued its rebounding domination, notching 10 offensive rebounds and turning them into 14 second chance points.
While their shooting went cold this quarter it wasn't totally a matter of failed execution for the Blazers. LaMarcus Aldridge (12 points) continues to draw a lot of attention and Andre Miller (13 points) has been getting into the lane at will. Jerryd Bayless has also been looking to push the ball in transition a little bit and has 8 first half points, although he failed to get a shot up on the half's final possession. Nicolas Batum, Brandon Roy and Martell Webster have all been quiet offensively and at least one of those guys will need to step up down the stretch if Portland is to keep pace with Phoenix's scoring. Roy continues to be a relative non-factor due to his foul trouble, scoring just 2 points in 6 minutes. Portland also must seriously improve its energy level on the glass and play better transition defense if it hopes to mount a comeback.
Marcus Camby appeared to suffer a finger injury during the first half and left for the locker room with a minute to go in the second quarter. The Blazers have not yet sent word regarding his condition. [Update 9:10PM: Camby dislocated his left pinky and will return.]
Phoenix goes into the halftime break holding a 57-47 lead.
It's difficult to remember a hotter start to a game for the Blazers this year. They jumped to an 18-4 lead after just 5 minutes thanks to 10 first quarter points from Andre Miller, who connected on two wide open 3 pointers. LaMarcus Aldridge also started out aggressively, looking for his turnaround jumper and benefiting from some crisp passing by Marcus Camby to tally 6 first quarter points. Speaking of Camby, he had a spectacular put-back dunk off a Miller missed layup and 2 monster blocks as well.
It was a comedy of errors for the Suns at the start: a missed dunk by Amar'e Stoudemire, a botched 3 on 1 fast break by Steve Nash and some uncharacteristic poor shooting by just about everyone made life even more difficult in the face of Portland's strong opening push. Phoenix remained calm, though, and began a slow steady push back into the game once Camby went to the bench with his second foul at the 4:45 mark. In the quarter's closing minutes, the Suns hit the glass hard -- grabbing 5 offensive boards total -- and attacked the paint with Juwan Howard in the middle. Meanwhile, the Blazers went cold on offense.
Brandon Roy did not start tonight and did not impact the first quarter all that much, drawing two quick fouls and playing passive defense against Jason Richardson in an effort to avoid a third foul. Richardson led the Suns with 11 points in the quarter.
The Portland Trail Blazers hold a 28-27 lead after 1 quarter.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter