The Portland Trail Blazers, down to a roster with more DNPs than combined games together on the floor, weren’t able to overcome the best team in the Western Conference, even without its All-Star backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker. The Blazers played like, well, a group of guys who basically met each other last week, while the Suns still enjoyed the luxury of general familiarity and experience.
Portland competed for a bit, but Phoenix was able to lock up Anfernee Simons after a productive first quarter, which all but ensured an upset just wasn’t in the cards. The Blazers fell on the road 120-90.
Brandon Williams was the high point man for Portland with 14 points in just 15 minutes off the bench. Trendon Watford displayed some of his versatility with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, also off the bench.
The Blazers came out of the gates loose with the ball and and struggling to find their way on offense, which isn’t surprising considering some of their players might have just learned these plays on the bus ride over to the arena. Portland turned the ball over twice in their first three possessions and didn’t get on the board until a three from Simons broke the ice nearly four minutes into the contest.
But despite Portland leaving a huge, tank-shaped hole for Phoenix to literally run through, the Suns failed to take much of an advantage. For every bonehead move made by the Blazers, Phoenix returned the favor with equal boneheaded-ness, their litany of turnovers highlighted by a vicious transition dunk by Greg Brown III in the final seconds that drew a technical foul from JaVale McGee.
11 points from Simons was enough to keep Portland on an even pace, as they trailed just 29-28 after one.
It didn’t take Phoenix long to realize the only player with any chance of tipping this game towards the Blazers was Simons, the same guy they should have expected all along. They began mercilessly throwing one, two, three, all the defenders at him. The attention was enough to keep Simons bottled up, and he went scoreless in the quarter. Drew Eubanks was the recipient of a few nifty dimes Simons was able to manufacture out of the pressure, but Portland’s offense stalled. The Suns then turned those struggles into instant punishment, torching the Blazers in transition. For a stretch seemingly every possession resulted in either an open three or alley-oop dunk. Portland looked outclassed in both speed and strength as Phoenix busted the game wide open, taking a 63-48 lead into the break.
The Blazers needed a way to deal with Phoenix watching Simons on each possession, but never really came up with an answer. They’d try moving the ball, but it would end up in an errant pass. Josh Hart made an effort to get things going, but he can only do so much. The only other guy who really got his shot going was Williams, and that tells you about as much as you need to know about the state of the game. Portland improved slightly on a 20-point second quarter with 21 in the third, but they were still hemorrhaging buckets to the Suns. Phoenix took a commanding 92-69 lead into the final frame.
The entire fourth quarter was garbage time and the Blazers didn’t make a run. Nothing to see here.
Stay tuned for extended analysis of the game coming up soon!
The Blazers will get a couple days off before heading to Minneapolis for the first of a double-header with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. Tip is set for 5 p.m. Pacific.