Playing without the backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons in Phoenix on Friday, the Portland Trail Blazers stunned the Suns with a 108-106 victory.
The game came down to the very last shot: an inbound play with one second remaining. The game tied at 106, forward Jerami Grant curled toward the basket – taking a bump from Suns center Deandre Ayton – and Justise Winslow lobbed the ball to him for the fadeaway flush.
The shot was spectacular, but the setup deserves credit as well. After the game, Grant had this to say of the pass (H/T: Aaron Fentress, The Oregonian):
“That was a great pass. We got a connection. Been knowing [Winslow] for a long time. I know how he plays, he know how I play. It was just there.”
Winslow, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth, walked reporters through his thinking leading up to the game-winning play.
“I figured it wouldn’t be open at the rim but I just wanted to put enough air under it where he would kind of read it like a wide-out and figure out where it was going. So, I just kind of threw it up.”
This kind of team cohesion is what has made the Trail Blazers successful thus far, and what could carry them to new and unexpected heights as the season progresses.
With the win, Portland clinched the season series over Phoenix. The Suns now plot their revenge in the second half of this back-to-back, hosting the Trail Blazers once more for a shot at redemption.