Missing both Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons, Portland was never close. Outside of a few more clips to add to the Shaedon Sharpe highlight reel, the contest did not leave many positives to take away.
Jerami Grant was hounded all evening but still led the team with 14 points. Sharpe added 13 points in 26 minutes.
After missing the first 8 games with a hip issue, Second-year forward Trendon Watford made his season debut, scoring 9 points in 15 minutes, most of which coming in garbage time.
Here’s how the action went down.
The Suns knew from the opening tip who buttered the Blazers’ bread last night. They had all eyes on Grant early. Torrey Craig drew the opening assignment on Grant and might as well have had him on a leash, hardly ever leaving him out of arm’s reach. When Portland tried to get him operating inside the perimeter, a second defender was never more than a few steps away. Phoenix basically said “you’re not going to fool us again… again” and then put their money where their mouth was and totally sold out.
That endeavor was mostly successful. Grant finished the quarter with only a lone field goal and 4 points, as the Suns managed to divert Portland’s offense to their second, third and so-on options on just about every possession. That didn’t mean the Blazers were dead in the water. After all, if somebody is being overplayed, logic would dictate that somebody else is being underplayed. But points didn’t come easy.
Sharpe was the only starter to get into any sort of scoring rhythm. He took full advantage of all the daylight given to him, scoring 9 points in the period. Meanwhile, Phoenix worked the ball to just about whomever they pleased with little resistance from Portland’s defense. The Suns shot nearly shot 60% in the quarter and held a 35-26 lead after one.
The second quarter seemed to be when fatigue from playing back-to-back nights, the absence of their starting backcourt and just the general difficulty of playing a good team twice in a row all came to a head. The Blazers’ offense went from hanging by a thread to completely unraveled as almost nothing went in their favor. Phoenix doubled-down on removing Grant as a shot-creator and Portland failed repeatedly to come up with another viable option. Deandre Ayton looked like Bill Russell patrolling the paint against sluggish legs that were a half-step slow all night and transformed it into no-man’s land. There seemed to be nowhere on the floor that the Blazers could find anything remotely easy.
By the end of the period, Portland was so desperate for a clean shot attempts that working the ball around to Justise Winslow for an angle three became not just acceptable, but desirable. To his credit, Winslow was 1-3 on those attempts, but the Suns knew that wasn’t going to beat them and invited the Blazers to let it fly to their heart’s content. Portland was able to hang around sheepishly until about midway into the period, when they trailed 43-33 with 5:42 remaining, but Devin Booker and Phoenix finished the half on n 18-7 run to take a convincing 61-40 lead into the break.
The Blazers made a little go of it in the third, climbing back to within 16 points on a Nassir Little drive late in the quarter, but yet another Phoenix run culminating in back-to-back threes from Damion Lee and Dario Saric re-extended the deficit to 20+ and ended any hopes of a comeback. Suns led 81-60 heading into the final frame.
Chauncy Billups waved the white flag immediately and did not return to his starters in the fourth.
Stay tuned for our extended recap coming soon from Dave Deckard!
The Blazers will get a day off before heading east to take on Miami Heat Monday evening at 5:30 p.m., Pacific.