CJ McCollum led the Portland Trail Blazers with an uber-efficient 26 points on 14 shots as they cruised to a 127-120 victory over the Phoenix Suns. The Blazers outscored the Suns 78-54 in the second and third quarters to give them a heavy cushion heading into the fourth. The Blazers starters rested for the majority of the fourth quarter and the second unit allowed a comeback to make the score look closer than the game felt. Devin Booker led the Suns with 23 points.
Nurk and Turk
The Blazers Big man duo of Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter manned all but nine minutes at the center position, and both made their mark known. Nurkic struggled around the rim early, missing his first 5 shots, but eventually he made up for it with 5 offensive rebounds and like always, kept countless balls alive that don’t show up on the stat sheet. Kanter’s activity gave solutions to the ball handlers. On the offensive side of the ball, the duo took it to the Phoenix frontcourt. In their 39 minutes, Nurk and Turk finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds, 7 offensive. They were a combined +27 on the floor as well.
After a slow first quarter (Blazers led 24-23 after the first) Portland turned on the burners and pulled away. CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard got hot and led the offensive attack, but the best sign from the game was the balance across the board. Portland controlled the glass, outrebounding the Suns 52-43. They shot 44.8 percent from three on 29 attempts, but also shot 36 free throws on the night. That’s the type of balance you hope for. Nine Blazer players scored 5 points or more including 55 from the bench.
Defensively, the Suns looked out of sorts, but Portland also did a good job putting pressure on the wings, forcing turnovers, and turning defense into offense. The bench gave up a bunch of points in the fourth, but until that point, the Suns struggle to get good looks.
After a sluggish first quarter, it became clear the Blazers had made a decision they were not going to let the Suns beat them. The Suns seemed okay with that. The Blazers turned up the pressure, were active on the glass and on loose balls and got hot from deep. After midway through the second quarter, the outcome was almost never in doubt. (Maybe a little at the end but not much.) After a long tough road trip and back to back losses, it was clear that Portland wanted to get back on the right track. That’s what they did. Even better, Portland built a lead that allowed the starters to rest the majority of the fourth quarter.
Rodney Hood left the game with soreness in his hip. Hopefully that doesn’t turn into an issue. Other than that, a very professional showing by the Blazers as they look to close out the season. Only 16 games left!
CJ McCollum – 7-7 from 2, 4-7 from 3 for 26 points. That about says it right there. The Phoenix guards couldn’t stick with him, McCollum split traps at will, and it led to opportunities to get to his spots in the lane. Even against the Suns, that efficiency is incredible,
Seth Curry – Curry was a huge spark off the bench scoring 18, the most hes had in a game in over a month. He doesn’t bring a ton of versatility to the game, but he can get hot and that’s what he did tonight. He finished with 22 points on 6-11 shooting including 3-6 from deep. Blazers are much more difficult team to guard when he hits shots like he did today.
Anfernee Simons – Simons sighting! With Hood and Evan Turner out tonight, rookie Anfernee Simons got to show what he can do in 9 minutes of action. Simons was aggressive looking for his shot, getting up 5 of them in his limited time, sinking two. Simons finished with 5 points. Not much else to speak up but still good to see him out there.
The Blazers head to LA to take on the Clippers on Tues March 12th at 730 PST