The Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns played close into the fourth quarter, but the Suns took control to win 109-93. Portland has a tendency of allowing peek-and-valley players to peek against their relatively porous defense. Last game it was Nick Young (40 off the bench) and tonight it was Gerald Green (32 off the bench). They were alternatively abused by Eric Bledsoe (30) and Goran Dragic (19), who predictably thrived in the paint.
Yet, it wasn’t the scoring outright that was Portland’s downfall in the end. Each team shot poorly, but the Suns attempted 16 more shots after corralling 10 more offensive rebounds. Second chance points were killer. Miles Plumlee alone grabbed 6 offensive rebounds; a number Thomas Robinson (5) had potential to match had he not sat after 13 minutes with 5 fouls. Like both previous losses to Phoenix this season, Portland was defeated on the glass.
Losing to the Suns tonight while the Rockets defeated the Thunder (111-107), the Trail Blazers have fallen back to 2.5 games behind Houston for the fourth seed in the Western Conference. With just five games remaining, their time to secure homecourt advantage is rapidly running out. The Trail Blazers’ next game comes at home against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday evening.
Trail Blazers Players
Robin Lopez played very well tonight, scoring a team-high 18 points and grabbing a team-high 13 rebounds with team-high 4 blocks (theme?). His steady effort kept the Trail Blazers in the game longer than they probably should have been given their shooting. This comes as no big surprise, since Lopez has been a necessary constant for the team in both times of strife and success.
Nicolas Batum came close…ish to a triple-double. His contributions can’t be discounted, but his 1-6 from deep didn’t do a whole lot to help Portland’s cause. He sort of disappeared in the second half. At halftime, he had 7 points 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, but finished with an only marginally better 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. A well-rounded game. Or at least, a very well-rounded half-game with 24 decent minutes tacked onto the end.
No one else really stood out. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge struggled to find their shots, Wesley Matthews made a sparse three baskets, and nobody broke the 20-point mark. The Trail Blazers only shot 40.2 percent from the field and didn’t help their cause by shooting poorly from the free throw line as well (an uncharacteristically low 63.0 percent). The Phoenix defense was respectably tight, but Portland played their part in defeating themselves.