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Game 14 Recap: Blazers 92, Suns 102

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Boxscore

 

For some reason my DVR cut off about nine minutes from the end of this game, so I didn’t get to see the finish.  Didn’t need to, really.  It was pretty obvious by that point what was happening.  Still, if I miss anything important from the fourth quarter be sure and fill us in down in the comment section.

 

General Observations

 

In the first half of this game everybody got to see firsthand what happens when the Blazers don’t make their three-pointers.  To say the first half shooting was a little off is like saying Robocop was a tad violent.  Our normally steady distance shooters were clanging it off the rim with regularity.  Once the Suns stopped fearing the three they felt free to gang up on drivers and posters, giving the Blazers less daylight than an Alaska winter.  The upshot was we ended up shooting only 34% for the half.  Except for a few drives peppered here and there by Brandon Roy we had nothing…36 points total.  The Suns only had 41 though.  There are worse ways to play the Suns than slowly and painfully.  You might be pretty but they are pret-TAY.  Grinding it out turned out to be a decent survival strategy.

 

Phoenix tried to put us away in the third quarter when Steve Nash came out fired up.  Steve Blake prevented total disaster by going on a run of threes.  The deep ball opened up the middle again and all of a sudden we were running, cutting, posting, and hitting.  The Suns got more physical as we got closer and we fought back admirably.  They didn’t take us out of our game through contact.  They did manage to outscore us by 10 in the quarter, largely through sinking threes of their own as the period came to a close.  After that it was too much Shaq and Amare.  We have a good team but we still don’t have the capability of matching that kind of concentrated star power.  Their big guys know how to win…their whole team does.  We’re still learning game by game.  All they needed was a little blood in the water.

 

We again allowed an opponent to shoot over 50%...53.3% to be exact.  Shaq and Grant Hill were the major culprits but every Phoenix player who spent more than 8 minutes on the court scored in double figures tonight save Matt Barnes who had 9.  The Suns beat us at our own game, shooting 44.4% from the three-point line.  We got a truckload of offensive rebounds (17) which was to the good, but it ended up not mattering because we couldn’t convert them into points.  We also failed to capitalize on a 9-18 turnover gap, as we scored 12 points off of their 18 turnovers but they scored 9 off of our 9 for a mere 3 point difference.  We had the opportunities, we just couldn’t take advantage.  And when you allow that kind of shooting you have to take every advantage you get.

 

 

Individual Notes

 

Roy tried to keep us afloat, shooting 10-23 (but only 2-7 from distance) for his 23 points.  He only got 4 free throws as well.  This really wasn’t his best game despite the scoring.  Raja Bell is a pretty good defender.

 

Lamarcus Aldridge was mostly cold with just a shade of hot, shooting 6-14 for 14 points.  He had trouble with Amare all night.  Even though Stoudemire didn’t go off Lamarcus had to expend a lot of energy avoiding him on offense and shadowing him on defense.

 

Steve Blake saved us from a true blowout by hitting 8-16, 4-8 from distance, with 5 assists and 3 rebounds.  I sure hope he’s not abstaining from something to get this production because whatever he’s doing right now he needs to keep on it.

 

Joel Przybilla had an astounding 5 blocks and 3 steals in addition to 8 rebounds and threw his heart into this game.  He had trouble dealing with Shaq as always but he made life hell for everybody else who came his way.  Great, gutsy effort.

 

Nicolas Batum hit a couple three-pointers and grabbed a couple of steals.  Typical game for him.

 

The bench as a whole only gave us 24 points tonight.  That’s not our M.O. at all.  Several players struggled mightily.

 

Travis Outlaw played 21 minutes, shot 33%, and got 0 rebounds, steals, and blocks.  He got an assist and a turnover and 7 points.

 

If Rudy Fernandez were any colder tonight you could open a Baskin-Robbins in his pants.  He shot 1-9 overall, 1-8 from beyond the arc.  That’s right, 8 of his 9 shots were three-pointers and he missed all but one of them.  Of course you never mind Rudy taking those shots.  He’s earned an off night or two.  One thing I have noticed about him is that his confidence seems wrapped up in his first two or three attempts.  If he misses those he seems to shrink a little, which is not good for the Blazers.

 

Greg Oden looked a little nervous out there at first being in the same building with Shaq.  They actually didn’t face up against each other all that much.  Przybilla was having too good of a game to keep him on the bench and Oden was suffering from his lack of lift as the Suns gang-tackled him with huge, athletic guys every time he got the ball down low.  He calmed down as the game went along but still ended up with 5 points, 5 fouls, 2 turnovers, and only 1 rebound in 14 minutes.  He’s still not used to dealing with big bodies.

 

Sergio Rodriguez only got 7 minutes.  Part of that was Blake being our key player tonight.  Part of it was the Suns daring him to duplicate Blake’s shooting and him going 0-3.  Nate couldn’t afford another guy missing shots out there tonight and Sergio was expendable.  Otherwise he did alright.

 

Channing Frye was the only bench player who looked better tonight than he has recently.  Maybe it was being back in Arizona.  He hit 3 of 6 shots including a 3-pointer, grabbed 5 offensive rebounds and 8 overall, and even had a couple nice passes to go along with his 9 points in 17 minutes.  If Channing could contribute at this level every night we’d be on to something.

 

Final Thoughts

 

We’ve won some surprising games but for the most part we continue to struggle against significant Western opponents.  That’s not totally unexpected.  Shake it off and get back to work.

 

For the Phoenix point of view see  BrightSideoftheSun.

 

You can check out the Jersey Contest scoreboard (and enter for the next game)  here.  The scoreboard has been fixed now and should be accurate.  Those of you who have been writing in about discrepancies please check your total now and see if it matches.  (Keep in mind that the L*kers game hasn’t been added in.)

 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)