In a Nutshell
This game was about what you'd expect, with the exception that Portland's second unit did quite well during their shift. But Steve Nash and company were too much for the Blazers' first unit, let alone the reserves. Phoenix wins a laugher. Portland has some excuse as neither Raymond Felton nor Nicolas Batum played.
The Blazers came out gunning as usual. Also as usual they played no defense, leaving the Suns wide open on any screen, failing to get back in transition, no rebounding. Steve Nash massacred the Blazers, threading passes and hitting open shots with aplomb. The Blazers let him dribble, throw, and shoot anywhere he pleased. Phoenix scored 35 in the first period and led by 11 after one.
Portland's second unit, led by Luke Babbitt, actually stood up for themselves against their Phoenix counterparts, guarding the inside, rebounding, and scoring enough to cut the lead to 3 midway through the period. That's when the Suns sent Nash back in. Ballgame. Phoenix took the lead back to 13 at the half and Portland never threatened in the second half. Suns win 125-107.
Take away LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Raymond Felton and the Blazers aren't so good right now. Who would have thought? I'm comfortably sure Denver, Houston, and Utah are cursing the Blazers right now.
There was one reason to watch this game: Luke Babbitt. Threebird went 4-9 from distance, 7-17 overall, showed a variety of ways to get a shot up, and scored a career high 18 points. His defense didn't look so bad next to all the other horribly-defending guys in red and black either. That would be an optical illusion, but we shouldn't overlook how far he's come since the beginning of the season.
The only bad part of Babbitt's game was his weak skyward point heading down the court after making a shot. Envision a half-hearted Double Isaac (from the "Love Boat") finger point towards the ceiling, not extended very far and almost offered with embarrassment. Lame. You either gotta go big or forget about the gesture altogether, particularly considering who you're trying to talk to. Personally I'd forget about it if I were him. It's the kind of flashy demonstration that doesn't fit his personality. Besides, every time you do that some kid in a children's hospital in the opponent's town wonders why God's helping the bad guys. Stop causing crises of faith in sick kids.
That's NOT an invitation to continue the religious discussion in the earlier Fanpost about Babbit's interview, by the way. Other than my little weigh-in--which I've earned by...I don't know...running the site and typing approximately a million words about the team this season--let's keep the comments focused on Babbitt and his play.
J.J. Hickson also had another fine game, having the inside all to himself, at least in the halfcourt. He went 9-15 for 22 points and 8 rebounds.
Wesley Matthews continues his torrid shooting from the arc, going 3-5 in this game.
The Trail Blazers vs Suns boxscore will tell you everything else. Most of the other stats were of the "well, somebody's got to get them" variety.
Fun With Numbers
- Blazers 15 offensive rebounds, one of the few things that went right in this game.
- Blazers allow the Suns 60% shooting from the floor. Did we mention the defense has been bad lately?
- Phoenix 51 made field goals and 29 assists. Those are huge numbers for a team that doesn't run.
- Oh wait...they did run. 27 fast break points for the Suns tonight. Ouch. This is part of the reason I take all guard scoring with a grain of salt. That made shot hardly counts if you give it back in the next play.
- Steve Nash: 13 assists. He could have had about 100. He only played 27 minutes too.
You know, these games may be hard to watch but you can count the times you'll see the Blazers again before next November on one hand now. During the summer we'll all be wishing for a game...any game. Enjoy them while you've got them.
Bright Side Of The Sun will let you know about the Suns' victory and how they helped their playoff chances.