Steve Nash and the rest of the Phoenix Suns lacked both heart and hustle this past weekend as they allowed a fired-up Portland Trailblazers team to completely dominate Friday night's game at US Airways Center. As a result, the road team left the arena with a 101-9 win and dealt Planet Orange its third straight loss.
Portland controlled the game pretty much from start to finish. They dialed down the pace considerably, limiting Phoenix's run and gun style, and stifling shooting with overwhelming defense. Meanwhile, the Suns' once again lack some serious D, which cost them dearly.
"Bottom line is that we didn't have enough stops," head coach Alvin Gentry stated after the game. "At the end of the night they forced their will on us from a pace standpoint."
Phoenix started off the first five minutes of the game with a 10-4 run before allowing their opponents to wrest control of things. The trio of LaMarcus Aldridge (23 points), Marcus Camby (18 points), and Wesley Matthews (16 points) fueled the Blazers to a 28-22 lead at the end of the first period. They proved just as powerful in the second stanza, going into halftime with a 61-53 advantage. Camby also provided a huge effort on the glass, totaling 18 rebound during the contest.
The first half of the game was akin to a highlight reel for Portalnd, as they had plenty of opportunities for dazzling lay-ups and three-pointers. (That continued into the third quarter, as Aldridge had a particularly nice-looking dunk to give his team a 77-63 lead.) Conversely, the Suns were being held to a miniscule 43 percent shooting for the first two periods, and didn't even sink a three-pointer until deep into the second stanza. Jason Richardson only had 8 points while Channing Frye came up with a paltry 12.
Eventually, the Suns showed signs of life in the second half, particularly when reserve players like Hedo Turkoglu and Goran Dragic during battled the Blazers a hard-fought fourth quarter. After Dante Cunningham dunked to give Portland a 17-point lead, Planet Orange kicked off a 15-4 run (which included a sweet three-pointer from Hedo) with around two minutes left to close the game to only five points.
It was too little, too late for the Suns, however, as Portland's scoring leader Brandon Roy (26 points) connected with a jump shot, Matthew hit a clutch lay-up, and Aldridge drained a few foul shots from the charity stripe to sew up the win.
Now that Phoenix has been battered by the Blazers twice in one week, they'll welcome the Minnesota Timberwolves to town for a game on Wednesday. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. For more info, visit www.suns.com.
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