Following a humiliating loss to Portland to kick off the NBA playoffs, the Phoenix Suns returned to their ass-kicking ways by manhandling the Trail Blazers for 48 straight minutes to decisively win Game Two 109-90 on Tuesday night at US Airways Center.
The series is tied at one game apiece.
Planet Orange lost only a handful of back-to-back games at home this season, and they damn sure weren't going to let that happen during the opening round of the playoffs. Any offensive or defensive demons that Phoenix may have suffered during Sunday's loss were apparently exorcised, as head Coach Alvin Gentry switched things up for Game Two.
And it paid off. The Suns controlled the pace of the game from the opening tip, ratcheting things back up with plenty of run-and-gun and their standard fast-break theatrics. They also applied some serious full-court defensive pressure, limiting the Blazers to a paltry 38 percent shooting for the evening.
One of Gentry's key decisions was to relieve Jason Richardson of the responsibility of guarding Portland's Andre Miller (who scored 31 points in Game 1), giving that task to Grant Hill. It turned out pretty well for both Suns stars, as J-Rich went from dud to stud by making up for his 10 points on Sunday with an absolutely pimp scoring effort.
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One stat that Phoenix's play-by-play announcers have loved quoting this season is that the Suns tend to win whenever Richardson nails down more than 20 points, which is exactly what he did last night. Flying around like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, the swingman was was swooping in for shots, hitting 11-of-16 from the field (including four treys) to top out at 29 points.
Meanwhile, Hill not only contained Miller's shootings, but lit up the scoreboard with 20 points of his own. The G-Man's screens weren't the only defense going on, as the Suns led the Blazers in rebounds 43-34, with 26 second-chance points.
Not too shabby.
Here's hoping Phoenix will save a little juice for the rest of the series, which heads to Portland for Game Three on Thursday night. Opening tip is 7 p.m. TV: KUTP My45. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. More info: www.nba.com/suns.