It was a great game between the Suns and the Trail Blazers last night, but the Suns lacked the sizzle to overcome Portland in the fourth quarter.
Steve Nash played brilliantly, with 24 points and 15 assists, but it was backup Blazers point guard Wesley Matthews' team that won the night 106-99.
The Suns led by double-digits several times in the game, but Portland's prowess from the free-throw line - 32 of 33 to the Suns' 17 of 21 - wound up being the difference between the two mediocre teams.
Phoenix is 11-10, and Portland is 10-11, and the win at the Rose Garden was the Blazers' second after six-straight losses. The Suns' loss ended a three-game winning streak.
As for Matthews, he scored 24 points and two assists playing in place of Andre Miller, serving a one-game NBA suspension for "excessive and unnecessary contact" with Blake Griffin during the Blazers' home victory against the Los Angeles Clippers the night before.
LaMarcus Aldridge and a hobbled Brandon Roy each had 20 for the Blazers, who stepped on the gas in the fourth period to beat Phoenix.
Behind with less than a minute and a half in the game, the Suns were forced to intentionally foul, but the Blazers didn't miss a free throw in the period and won by seven. Portland outscored the Suns 37-24 in the fourth.
Grant Hill continued his old-man excellence, with 23 points and eight rebounds. Channing Frye hit three of four three-pointers and wound up with 13 points and seven boards.
Conspicuously absent as the dominant scorer Coach Alvin Gentry needs him to be was Jason Richardson, who only managed six points.
No rest for the weary: The Suns play Marc Gasol and the 8-14 Memphis Grizzlies at US Airways Center tonight. Tip-off's at 7 p.m. TV: Fox Sports AZ. For more information, go to www.suns.com.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.