Final: Suns Screen the Blazers, 102-98

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Yes, it's true. The season is quickly slipping away, tonight with an ugly loss to the Phoenix Suns. The Blazers made the Suns look like contenders for large portions of the game. Let that one sink in.

The Blazers were led by JJ Hickson (25 points, 16 rebounds), Damian Lillard (24 points, 7 assists) and LaMarcus Aldridge (23 points), but it was a bad night all around. Nicolas Batum (15, 5 and 5) airballed a three, and Victor Claver, covering for an injured Wesley Matthews, was a non-factor.

First Quarter: The groans began within seconds. Miss. Miss Miss. And at the other end? Swish. Swish Swish. No Blazer points for the first 5+ minutes, leading to a 12-0 Suns lead. The Blazers settled down a little to cut it to 7. In a change, all the Blazer starters came out early except Lillard. They hung in there, but a late Dragic three pushed the lead to 13 at the end of one. Phoenix shot 73% in the quarter.

We are just letting them get ahead so it will be exciting when they come back… The front office is forcing them to play this way to sell tickets.
by Eat Politicians

Second Quarter: Poor defense, poor rebounding, dumb mistakes. At times the Blazers made their own breaks... but would then blow easy buckets afterward. In fact, every time the Blazers tried to make a run, Phoenix batted them away like they were a fly. A 7-point Suns run pushed the lead to 19 late, before settling at 16 for the half. Phoenix was still shooting 60%.

Getting killed by Wesley Johnson. Can't get much lower.
by SNewtn

Third Quarter: Time to attempt another run. A couple nice possessions (and a Claver three-pointer) cut the Phoenix lead to 11, and things looked good. Hickson tipped in a miss to make it 10, and Aldridge quickly made it 8 with some inside work. Phoenix decided to take a break. Afterward, the teams fought to a standstill for most of the quarter. A rough-luck stretch for the Blazers gave Phoenix three late points, and an 11 point lead headed into the fourth.

This is one of the many games we've had this year, where even if we win, it’ll still feel like a loss and I’ll be annoyed either way.
by Mortimer

Fourth Quarter: It didn't get any better, as Phoenix regained their 16 point lead. But just as the fans checked the traffic on their phones, Aldridge and Hickson scored 6 quick points. Neither team budged for the next 6 minutes, but as the clock rolled under 5, the Blazers came alive. Down 10, Aldridge completed a three-point play, and Lillard followed it with a three-pointer to cut the lead to 4 with less than four minutes left. Unfortunately, poor defense gave Phoenix 4 quick points out of a timeout, and the Blazers tried to chip away again.

They were down 5 with two minutes left, but got the ball. Nolan Smith hit one of two free throws, and the Blazers forced a turnover. Down 4, Lillard turned it over, and the Suns did the same at the other end. The Blazers called timeout with 37 seconds left. It took 17 seconds and an awful three-pointer, but Aldridge eventually cut the lead to 2, but it was far too late. Phoenix actually passed to their worst FT shooter, but the Blazers didn't foul him. They let Dragic get the ball instead, and fouled him. That sealed their fate. All night, the Blazers had nobody to blame but themselves.

Box score | Portland Trail Blazers tickets via TiqIQ

Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule. -- Tim

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