Portland Trail Blazers 109, Phoenix Suns 71 — Lost bar fight

Even head coach Alvin Gentry could not bear to watch this thrashing. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Even head coach Alvin Gentry could not bear to watch this thrashing. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Bar fights are metaphors for basketball games.

Kevin Garnett made it so with his remarks following the Celtics’ 27-point, comeback victory against the Magic on Thursday. One well-documented, NBA-related bar fight fits this one perfectly.

In the Phoenix Suns’ 109-71 loss to Portland in the Rose Garden on Friday, the Blazers were indeed Charles Barkley. The Suns? They were that guy Barkley threw through a bar window on Oct. 26, 1997.

There was a clear winner. The loser showed no sign of fighting back and the Suns must slump off to lick their wounds. They are now outside the bar — cut, bruised and confused — wondering what in the world just happened to them.

This one wasn’t about the Portland Trail Blazers’ 8-1 home record coming into it, nor their motivation to exact revenge upon the Phoenix Suns, who bludgeoned them by 25 points earlier in January.

That game might as well have been a dream.

The Blazers pinpointed, exposed and exploited every one of the Suns’ flaws. Portland found itself down 24-21 after the first quarter. From then onward, their youthful and athletic energy punished Phoenix by outscoring the Suns 26-9 in the second quarter and 31-12 in the third. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting, and all but one of his baskets — an 11-foot jumper — were three feet or closer. The Suns couldn’t even muster the frustration to foul the power forward and put him on the free throw line. He hit 3-of-5 free throws, and Gerald Wallace backed him up with 17 points, all but five of which came in the paint or at the free throw line. Portland went on to score 52 points in the paint.

The Suns’ own free throw woes told another story in the game. A team almost exclusively exposed of jump shooters couldn’t hit their freebies, hitting only 9-of-18 foul shots. That translated into game play, where they shot 37.2 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from three-point range.

Grant Hill’s 10 first quarter points would have led the team in scoring if he had stopped there, and he pretty much did. Hill finished with only 12 after his hot shooting petered out, and he didn’t receive much help. Marcin Gortat’s double-double streak of nine games came to an end with his eight-point, 10-rebound performance, and two-time MVP Steve Nash only put in five points and seven assists in 24 minutes before being relegated to the bench thanks to the blowout.

With Hill’s final points of the game coming off a jumper with 5:33 in the second quarter, the Suns wouldn’t hit another field goal for 7:30, on a Gortat layup in the third. It was part of a 14-3 Blazer run to put them ahead 56-35 three minutes into the third. Portland gave Phoenix a kill-shot midway through the third quarter with four consecutive three-pointers, the last of which put them ahead by 33 points.

It was all but over by that point.

The Suns looked ill-prepared and their timing was off throughout the evening. They had 22 turnovers and that combined with their putrid shooting performance gave Portland the opportunity to pick apart the Phoenix defense as the game progressed. In the second and third quarters, the Suns missed eight shots within five feet of the cup, and their urgent pushes on offense didn’t help them find a rhythm. Rather, it made their efficiency more erratic and forced.

Friday was almost a sign from the basketball gods that Phoenix’s roster, no matter how well they execute, can’t compete with a talented and athletic team like the Blazers. Not that they executed well, either.

Length hurt Phoenix: Marcus Camby’s 20 rebounds and three players with three steals each were too much. Talent was on Portland’s side: Jamal Crawford had 10 assists and Wesley Matthews was a dead-eye shooter at 4-for-7 from three-point land. Will was on the Blazers’ side too: They out-rebounded the Suns by 17 and Chris Johnson shoving Hakim Warrick while hanging on the rim after a dunk late in the game showed that they were more willing to pick a fight than even the Phoenix players in the midst of their most embarrassing moment of the year.

And like Charles Barkely was feeling about Jorge Lugo, the man Sir Charles chucked (pun intended) through a plate-glass window in ’97, the Blazers probably don’t feel sorry about it.

  • Sneezer


  • http://h Sun-arc

    I missed the game, but at least it gave us this creative writing exercise on recaps. Very well written, though I wish it were better news.
    Embarrassing loss. Get some character, suns. Get some pride and fire- from this, each other, or yourselves. None of us deserve this, especially not you as players. We love the team too much to see you go through all this.

  • shazam

    getting closer to a good lottery pick…keep those losses coming

  • bk

    I didn’t watch it. But is that really showing Lopez is vital here?

  • Do

    Lopez could have been the game-changer…

  • Sneezer

    Yea, I’m sure the absence of Lopez’s 14.2 minutes per game average was vital.

  • Cam

    At this rate Nash may not request a trade, but Gortat might! Go Suns

  • Scott

    Gentry should keep doing what he’s doing, as obviously it works. :p

    BTW, nice to see Childress not only got some minutes, but he also scored some points.

    Even nicer was that I had some company come over at half time, so I didn’t have to watch the rest of the game.

    @bk -

    Lopez is more vital to the team than most think, if for nothing else than by providing depth.

    Warrick is really too wiry to be a PF, so that leaves the Suns with just 3 other players to cover C and PF.

  • Grover

    I get more depressed each game. How many more games left this season? 45ish? Uhg.

  • shazam

    after beating orlando tonight….“Any time you hold team like that to 67 points, you get excited about the fight and character of our team,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “I hope our fans understand this transition hasn’t been easy. We have a ways to go … but when I’m in that locker room, in those huddles and the guys are supporting one another, out there fighting for each other, the way they played tonight, it makes the prospects for the future of our organization look bright.”…thats NEW ORLEANS…whats that say about our suns team ,future and fighting spirit or lack of?

  • Grover

    What would any of you have said if three years ago somebody had proposed trading the entire Suns organization for the Clippers or Timberwolves? Then you would have said that person was f-ing nuts. Now? They would have been geniuses.

  • Mar

    Ridiculous. The suns need to make some moves. Anything is better then this. Let Nash go to a winning team he deserves better.

  • http://godaddy.com Big Daddy


  • Marley

    I know … let’s blame Vince Carter!


    Don’t say I didn’t tell you all this would happen!


    Fire Gentry now!

    Once the trade deadline approaches, some playoff bound team will come knocking on the door for Nash to be a backup-PG to play the role of JJ Barrea!

  • Scott

    The report is that Gentry is going to change the lineup to try to boost the bench so the Suns don’t fall behind in 2nd quarters.

    But Gentry’s already played all the Suns in the 2nd quarter – including the starters – and received poor results.

    So what is Gentry going to do? The only thing I can think of is that Gentry might move Price back to the 2nd unit and bring Brown up to the starting unit.

    IMO, the 2nd unit was more successful with Price at the helm, mainly due to his aggressive style. Brown would come to the first unit to provide steals, to receive lobs from Nash, and to provide a perimeter shooting threat. Dudley and Frye would continue with the 2nd unit, and hopefully do better with Price at PG than they’ve done with Telfair.

  • shazam

    @ scottt…thats the only thing you can think of? hehe..what about lopez and gortat?….u missed an opportunity to get the plug in :)

  • sun also rises

    Thats right Marley, if Vinsanity were still on the Suns then the team would be on top of the PC and have the Clip Show and everybody else running scared. Or he would be bricking game winners and pretending like his ankle was hurt while the team still floundered, just like he’s doing now with the Mavs.

    Are the Dallas boards so dull that you have to keep coming back here? Begone, cabrone

  • Scott

    @shazam -

    I think that when Gentry has run out of all other options, he still won’t consider playing Gortat and Lopez. :p

  • Zak

    @ Scott – Even if Gentry plays Gortat and Lopez together, that means that there will be at least some time that he has to play Frye at center. Even most other 2nd team centers would eat him alive.

  • shawn

    When I turned to the game the score was 89 to 57 and I kept it moving.

  • Scott

    @Zak -

    You could be right, the way things are going this year, but IIRC in previous years Frye did fine against opposing 2nd unit centers. In fact, I believe that’s his best spot: 2nd unit center.

  • Tony

    Wow, what a horrible game for the Suns. This is what happens when you put together a team full of scrubs.
    I figured the Suns would lose this one, first because they are a stinky team, but also because the Blazers were more focused and wanted to revenge their loss to the Suns earlier this season. But for the Suns to show no pride speaks volumes about how truly pathetic this team is.

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