Looking like a team with seven straight losses, the Portland Trail Blazers fell behind from the opening tip. However, after being down double-digits to the Phoenix Suns on two separate occasions, everything changed. Portland fought back to take over the lead in the third quarter. As the Blazers amped up their energy, the Suns wilted, collapsing into a double-digit deficit they couldn’t quite dig out of. Portland celebrated a 109-105 victory, only the third win at home all season.
Anfernee Simons (23) and Jerami Grant (22) led the way in scoring. Blazers sophomore Shaedon Sharpe, struggling again in the first half, was shut down at halftime due to adductor soreness. He finished with no points in eight minutes.
- The energy of the youngsters saved the day for the Blazers, with Toumani Camara outplaying his line in the box score. Playing against the team that traded him, Camara was everywhere on the court, wreaking havoc on Phoenix’s offense playbook.
- Jusuf Nurkic received a nice ovation from the crowd in his first regular-season return to Portland since the offseason trade to Phoenix. He played like, well, Jusuf Nurkic. Solid game, unspectacular, nearly a double-double, and missed the rim on a key fourth quarter layup. Twice.
- Nurkic’s counterpart in the trade, DeAndre Ayton, had a nice night against his former team. He finished with 16 points (4-4 FT) and 15 rebounds. He also sent a very nice video message to his biggest fan, Hayley Smith.
- Not to take away from a nice, long-overdue win for the Blazers and their home fans, but this game was ominous for the 10th-place Suns’ hopes of being a Finals contender. They played much of the second half like they hadn’t been formally introduced to each other yet. Perhaps they’ll meet at dinner over the holidays. They relied on the three-pointer, but made only 5 of their 23 attempts, many wide open.
The Blazers are back in action Thursday night, playing at home against one of only three NBA teams with fewer wins than them: The Washington Wizards.