The Phoenix Suns looked a lot like team that is in complete control of their first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, even though they're up just 2-1 in the series. The Suns led by as much 31 points, on the road, Wednesday night as they rolled to a 108-89 win behind Jason Richardson's 42 points.
It's hard to believe the Suns let Game One slip away from them at US Airways Center on Sunday -- because they appeared unbeatable Wednesday. On Saturday, they'll try to keep it rolling in Game Four in Portland to force an elimination game next week in Phoenix.
With the Blazers focusing on Suns superstars Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire, the window of opportunity opened for Richardson, who hit 13 of his 19 shots, including eight three-pointers, one off a single-game Suns playoff record. "I was surprised they kept leaving me [open]," Richardson said after the game. Richardson also starred on the defensive end with eight rebounds.
The only chink in the Suns' armor appeared in the fourth quarter when the Blazers staged a fierce rally on the strength of Rudy Fernandez's three consecutive three-pointers. Portland cut the lead to 91-80, but the Suns quickly suppressed the Blazers and quieted the Rose Garden crowd by regaining control and expanding the lead to an insurmountable with four minutes left in the game.
Despite the added pressure on him, Stoudemire finished with 20 points. He nabbed only four rebounds in the game, but ageless wonder Grant Hill picked up the slack on the glass, picking up seven rebounds. Steve Nash finished with just 13 points but dished out 10 assists in the victory. In terms of scoring, the rest of the team were essentially non-factors, especially guys like Channing Frye (four points) and Jared Dudley (six points). Instead, the game belonged to Richardson.
Here's Richardson, after the game: "I think it was my best game as a pro. Nine years in the league, only been to the playoffs twice, so it's been seven summers at home. Right now, I don't take anything for granted."
Richardson will try to keep it going on Saturday at the Rose Garden and, hopefully, send the Suns back to Phoenix with a 3-1 lead and essentially put this series out of reach for the Blazers.
Saturday's tip-off: 1:30 p.m. TV: TNT and My45 (channel 9). Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info: www.suns.com