In their 8th and final game of the exhibition season, the Blazers ran out to a big first quarter lead, nearly gave the whole thing back in the second quarter, blew the game open again in the third, stretched their lead to 20+ early in the fourth, and cruised to a 113-93 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Vancouver, BC.
All five Blazers starters finished with +/-'s over 20, while all 5 Phoenix Suns starters finished with +/-s of -15 or less. So that pretty much sums this one up: Portland's five took their five.
The Blazers were paced by Brandon Roy, who played the entire first and third quarters on his way to a very Brandon-like 22 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Roy set the tone by tallying 17 points in the first quarter, more points than he had scored in any other game this preseason. Thanks for showing up!
LaMarcus Aldridge was initially listed as a game-time decision but was swayed into action by the Blazers training staff, who vigorously rubbed his contusion with big-faced hundred dollar bills. LMA repaid the favor by chipping in a very LaMarcus-like 17 points and 9 rebounds.
The Suns cooled off from their hot-shooting night in the Memorial Coliseum and were paced by Steve Nash (14 points, 4 boards, 7 assists) and Amar'e Stoudemire (13 points, 2 boards). Apparently they didn't play much defense.
The Blazers have now concluded their exhibition season with a record of 4-4.
The regular season begins Tuesday night, at home in the Rose Garden against the Houston Rockets. The game will be televised. Thank God.
Joe Freeman writes what many were starting to assume...
But despite this discouraging truth, as the Blazers wrapped up their exhibition season Thursday night with a 113-93 win against the Phoenix Suns at General Motors Place, one thing seemed clear: Blake will open this season as the Blazers' starting point guard. Although coach Nate McMillan has not made this official, a variety of reasons point to the reality and all surfaced in the opening minutes against the Suns.
On the Blazers' first scoring possession, Blake drove into the lane and kicked the ball out to Brandon Roy, who swished a three-pointer for a 3-0 lead. Moments later, Blake helped push that lead to 7-0 when he passed to a wide-open LaMarcus Aldridge for another jumper. A long fast-break pass to Aldridge here, another assist to Roy there, and the Blazers led 20-11.
Mike Barrett, Blazers.com
I think it's pretty clear that Nate McMillan has settled on a starting lineup. If he was needing to see this unit perform well together to put his mind at ease then this game certainly did that.
The starting group of Blake, Roy, Batum, Aldridge, and Oden was spectacular on this night, quickly getting Portland off to a 14-point lead. Even though the second unit gave that entire lead up in the second quarter, the starters were able to come back in the third quarter and build it right back.
"We did a good job of setting the tone defensively," Roy said. "On offense, I thought that led to the looks that we've been working on."
The Trail Blazers outrebounded the smaller Suns 50-28, including 16-4 on the offensive glass.
"We've got big Greg (Oden)," Roy said. "He gets in there and causes a lot of havoc inside. Any time our big men can get tips and hands on basketballs it's only going to help us out. They can get us more shots."
Fans remembering the Vancouver Grizzlies, who left in 2001 for Memphis, waved signs saying "David Stern, give us back the NBA," and "Vancouver wants the NBA." Several members of the NHL's Vancouver Canucks had courtside seats.
In the first half, both coaches relied heavily on what will be their likely starting lineups when the curtain rises on the regular season.
Portland led 36-25 after 12 minutes when Roy, a Seattle native in his fourth NBA season, drained 17 points, hitting five of six shots, including three from beyond the arc.
Mike Schmitz, Valley of the Suns.
In the Suns' 113-93 preseason finale loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns didn't exactly give the Vancouver Nash-aholics the basketball performance they were expecting. For what seems like the 100th time this preseason, the Suns were absolutely murdered on the boards en route to an embarrassing loss.
Steve Kerr and Alvin Gentry have talked over and over about the Suns' "gang rebounding" strategy and the team's new commitment to defense. Well, prove it. It is one thing to say you are going to do something, but going out and actually doing it is a completely different story.
AZCentral.com has game photos.
Video of Steve Nash leaving the arena, courtesy of Jared Dudley.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)