After a great opening night, the Portland Trail Blazers came back to Earth against the Suns in Phoenix. Portland looked flustered all night, and the Suns took advantage. The Blazers spent the evening in foul trouble, and an aggressive Phoenix enjoyed repeated trips to the charity stripe, and the team simply wasn't crisp enough at either end to overcome the discrepancy. The Blazers will get a chance to correct their mistakes, getting another shot at these Suns Saturday night in Portland.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (24 points, 6 assists) and CJ McCollum (16 points, 3 assists), who both struggled through poor shooting nights. Al-Farouq Aminu finished with a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds).
In the first quarter, the Blazers played the Suns to a standstill. Lillard and Aminu hit three-pointers, and while the Suns looked comfortable and aggressive against Portland's shaky defense, they couldn't push their lead past 7 points. A late Ed Davis three-point play kept Portland within 4 points at the end of the quarter.
Very little changed in the second quarter, other than the arrival of CJ McCollum whose shooting kept Portland close. He scored 7 points in three minutes, and Portland tied it up with a Plumlee jumper. But against Phoenix's defense, the Blazers would go scoreless for minutes at a time, with only Aminu and Lillard making any shots in the last 7:30 of the quarter. Phoenix went into halftime with a six point lead.
Speaking of halftime, Phoenix scheduled a long 20 minute one to retire Steve Nash's jersey. An hour later, the Blazers finally returned to action.
In the third, Portland might as well have stayed in the locker room and headed to the airport. They had the same chance of making a jumper from that distance. They went almost 5 minutes without a point, and the Suns surged into control. When they weren't scoring against Portland's defense, they enjoyed visits to the free throw line. The lead reached double-digits halfway into the quarter, and the game was on the verge of spiraling out of control by the end. Portland clung to a 14 point deficit, hoping for a fourth quarter run.
Alas, a run was not to be. Phoenix immediately pushed the lead to 16, and their defense easily kept Portland at bay. With a return game to be played tomorrow night, Blazers coach Terry Stotts eventually tossed the white flag, allowing the bench to finish the game.
These same Suns again, Saturday night at the Moda Center in Portland. Stay tuned tonight for plenty of game analysis from Dave Deckard.