The Phoenix Suns(18-36) escaped the Portland Trail Blazers(25-29) last night by the final score of 102–98. The Suns were led by the Dragon, Goran Dragic,who scored 16 points and dished out a career-high 18 assists in the Suns win. Phoenix raced out to a 12-0 lead to begin the game and led 36-23 after one, behind 10 first quarter assists from Dragic.
”First off, I would like to thank all of my teammates. Without them, I could not get 18 assists.” Said Dragic following the win against the Blazers.
The Suns began the fourth quarter with a 84–73 lead and led by as much as 16 points in the fourth quarter, however Portland would storm back on a 18-6 run led by LaMarcus Aldridge who scored nine points on that Blazers run; Aldrige scored 11 in the fourth but it just wasn’t sufficient enough to propel Portland to a comeback win.
Phoenix’s bench dominated Portland’s bench, outscoring Portland’s bench 40-7. Wesley Johnson got solid minutes for the first time in a long time and Johnson responded with a solid performance as he recorded 14 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench. Johnson evidently played the role off the bench that Shannon Brown typically plays. Brown was perfectly healthy and was ready to play but Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter gave his minutes to Johnson as Brown registered a DNP-Coach’s Decision.
The Suns once again struggled at taking care of the basketball, turning the ball over 18 times which led to 21 points for the Portland Trail Blazers; Phoenix turned the ball over three times in the final two minutes which was what ultimately opened the door for Portland.
With 20 seconds left in the game, the Suns were leading only 100-98 after a pair of made Aldridge free-throws. Phoenix watched a 16-point lead vaporize into thin air in the fourth quarter but somewhat fortunately for Phoenix, that was the last ounce of gas Portland have left in the tank and the Suns were able to escape with the narrow victory.
Phoenix did a tremendous job defensively against Portland holding them to just 41.3% shooting from the field, merely four fast-break points and just 34 points inside the paint. The one Blazer that did have a big night was J.J Hickson. Hickson scored 25 points and pulled in 16 rebounds while making 10 of his 14 shot attempts; Hickson scored just 4 points in the fourth quarter.
With this victory the Suns snap their four-game losing streak while the Blazers have now lost six games in a row and are now tied with the Lakers for the ninth spot in the western conference. This may be a good win for the Suns but at this stage of the season, the Suns are obviously playing for draft position and this win could potentially effect the Suns come the draft in June.