Well there you have it, the streak is over. The Phoenix Suns(11-16) fell to the Portland Trail Blazers(13-12) during the final seconds of last night’s game losing 93-96 in Portland. Portland was led by J.J Hickson who earns his 7th straight double-double as he recorded 19 points, 15 rebounds and a block.
But it was Portland’s rookie, Damian Lillard who put the dagger in the Suns on Saturday night as he scored 9 points in the final 5 minutes of the game including a big 3-pointer that gave Portland their biggest lead of the game at 7 with 4 minutes left in the contest. Lillard’s great season continues as it seems he’s headed for NBA greatness; Jermaine O’Neal was rather impressed by the young player out of Web State and this is what he had to say.
“It’s funny because you can’t read his face. Sometimes the light which is the glare of being a rookie in the NBA becomes so bright that you see it affect some of the guys emotionally or physically,” O’Neal said. “He does a great job keeping his demeanor. He loves the big shot, obviously, he took some big ones. I think he’s definitely the future of this team.”
“It lets us know we’re going in the right direction,” Lillard said. “For us to be able to come from four games below .500 and be able to get on a winning streak and get it done, I think it says a lot about where we’re headed.”
After Lillard drained a clutch 19-foot jumper with 41 seconds left the Blazers had the lead 96-91. Alvin Gentry immediately called timeout and the Suns scored quickly on a Jared Dudley lay-up with 38 seconds left.
On the following Blazer’s possession the ball was once again in the hands of Lillard but this time he missed the shot with 17 seconds left which would of iced the game for Portland but the Suns were able to regain possession with 14 seconds left down by 3. The Suns still had a timeout at that point however Gentry elected not to call the timeout but instead just let his players play out the biggest possession of the game. Goran Dragic had the ball last but he missed the game tying 3-pointer with time running out and the Suns left the Rose Garden with the L.
“We had a timeout left. We had an opportunity to go down, and I thought we could get a quick two with a timeout left,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “Then we peeled off and started looking for a three, and just never got the timeout called.”
LaMarcus Aldridge was a game-time decision for last night’s game as he was nursing an ankle injury ultimately ended up playing and came up big as he put up 17 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Despite the fact that the Suns led only 25-23 after one, and the final score shows that this had all the marks of a tight game, but in-reality the Suns had multiple chances to put these guys away, they just weren’t able to do so.
After a Nicholas Batum 3-pointer in the 2nd quarter which gave Portland a 33-31 lead, the Suns went on a 16-2 run and led 47-35 with 4:48 left in the first half. Portland then responded with a 9-0 run to close the gap to 49-44 with just a little over a minute remaining in the 1st half after a pair of Aldridge made free throws. The Suns would score the final 4 points of the half giving themselves a 53-44 lead heading into the 2nd half.
The Blazers began the 2nd half hotter than the sun as they made 7 of 9 shots to begin the 3rd quarter and a Lillard 3-pointer with 7:09 to go made it a 1-point game but the Suns still led 63-62. The Suns then went on a 10-1 run and had a 73-63 lead with 3 minutes left in the 3rd but once again they allowed Portland to get back into the game as Portland closed the quarter on a 12-2 run and made it a tie game at 75 a piece heading into the final period of play; and we all know how that story ended.
At the end of the season this is a loss the Suns will look back on and think about because this was their game to lose. The Suns had double digit leads for stretches throughout the game but they just couldn’t close the deal.
The Suns won’t have time to feel sorry for themselves as they are set to go up against the Clippers of Los Angeles tonight back at home in Phoenix at the U.S Airways center.