|Blake propels injury-depleted Blazers past Suns|
|Updated 2/11/2010 1:40 AM ET|
The Suns were waiting, with five days' rest and a five-game winning streak, knowing the Blazers hadn't won in Phoenix for a long, long time.
What followed was a 108-101 victory for Portland in one of the Blazers' best offensive games of the season and a Suns performance that left Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry steaming.GAME REPORT: Trail Blazers 108, Suns 101
The final score did not come close to reflecting the Blazers' dominance.
Steve Blake (FSY) had 20 points and 12 assists, both season highs for Portland, coming off an 89-77 home loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. Blake didn't start in that game and went scoreless, going 0 for 5 in 23½ minutes.
Still, coach Nate McMillan decided to start Blake alongside Andre Miller, with Nicolas Batum (FSY) going to the bench.
"Everyone knows last night was a little uncharacteristic of us, 24 turnovers and stuff," Blake said, "so we wanted to come back and show how we really play. When you have a big break coming up you want to have confidence, feeling good going into that break. So this is huge for us."
The Blazers, who led by as many as 22 in the third quarter and 17 in the fourth, shot 58%, the highest the Suns have allowed this season. Portland made 71% of their first-half shots while ending a 10-game losing streak in Phoenix.
"We were pretty sharp from the start," McMillan said. "It's nice to see the ball going through the hoop. I think all teams feed off that when their shots are falling."
The Blazers, without All-Star Brandon Roy (FSY) and three other injured important players, bolted to a 14-point lead in the opening minutes and were up by as many as 17 in the second quarter.
LaMarcus Aldridge (FSY) led five Portland players in double figures with 22 points. Amare Stoudemire scored 24 for Phoenix. Steve Nash (FSY) had 15 points and 11 assists, but shot just 6 of 16 with five turnovers.
The Trail Blazers last won in Phoenix on Feb. 4, 2004, but they have beaten the Suns four straight times — three in Portland — for the first time since Dec. 5, 1999.
Gentry knows that the Blazers are one of the teams Phoenix will be fighting for a playoff berth. The teams enter the All-Star break nearly tied, the Suns 31-22 and the Blazers 31-24.
"They outhustled us, they came up with big plays, they made good passes," Gentry said. "They did everything that we didn't do. ... We weren't ready to play and we didn't play with a whole lot of energy and passion, and when we don't do that, we're not very good. We become a very, very, very average team."
The closest the Suns got after the early minutes was 103-99 after Nash's long three-pointer with 18.8 seconds to go, then Blake and Miller made seven of eight free throws to finish it off.
The Suns, who hadn't played since Friday, scored the last six points of the third quarter and first nine of the fourth. The 15-0 run that started and ended on three-pointers by Jared Dudley (FSY) cut the lead to 83-76 with 10½ minutes to play. But Batum and Blake made three-pointers, and Dante Cunningham (FSY) had a breakaway layup to ignite a 12-2 spurt by Portland.
"It was huge because they had a lot of confidence," Blake said. "The crowd was starting to get loud, really get into the game and I think they feed off of that, so that was a good job to kind of take the crowd out of it at that point."
Phoenix managed a last gasp. Channing Frye (FSY) made a 7-footer from the baseline, followed by a fastbreak dunk, then Nash made a three-pointer in an 18-6 run that cut it to 101-96 after Stoudemire's two free throws.
Blake missed a long 3 at the shot clock buzzer, but Aldridge grabbed the offensive rebound. That led to two free throws by Blake that boosted the lead to 103-96 24.2 seconds from the end.
The Blazers, without Roy for the 12th straight game, made 12 of their first 15 shots to go up 24-10. After Aldridge's 20-footer made it 26-12, Gentry called a time out and gave his team a profanity-laced tongue lashing.
NOTES: Portland had never won in Phoenix since Nash arrived. ... The Blazers reached 100 points for the fourth time in 14 games. ... Portland made 45 field goals, 14 more than the previous night against Oklahoma City. ... Before the game, Stoudemire thanked the fans for their support in making him an All-Star starter. Stoudemire is the subject of widespread trade speculation. Phoenix doesn't play again at home until Feb. 19, one day after the trade deadline. ... The Canadian Nash will carry the Olympic torch through downtown Vancouver on Thursday.
|Posted 2/11/2010 12:39 AM ET|
|Updated 2/11/2010 1:40 AM ET|