In what was the most heartbreaking loss for the Suns so far this season, the team suffered a loss in Portland against the Trail Blazers 90-89. The game was a duel from start to finish, but a poor last few seconds by the Suns sealed their fate. With a one point lead and 11.9 seconds left in the ball game, the Suns, harkening back to the old-time defense(or lack thereof), essentially allowed Damain Lillard to drive to the basket. But someone could put in the game winner for Phoenix with 6.5 seconds left right? Well, Bledsoe drove in and narrowly missed, and neither P.J. Tucker nor Markieff Morris could finish it off, though they were both just a hair away.
In fairness to the Suns, examination of the replay showed that Blazers forward Nicholas Batum should’ve been called for goaltending because he hit the rim. While that’s no excuse for the poor execution in crunch time, they could’ve won despite the errors. The reality is that it was probably the worst 12 seconds of ball they’ve played all year. Their defense has been firm, but a miscalculation by Channing Frye left Bledsoe with no support trying to fend off Lillard.
The Suns did show how they’ve come to the 5-3 start they have, which is still far above many people’s expectations: pure, resolute effort. It just isn’t in this team to quit on any game or any play, and you can see that. In the seconds before the game was decided, the Suns picked up two steals immediately after missing shots. Observers of the game could see how hard the Suns fight for loose balls and rebounds. That kind of mentality wins game, just not all of them.
In his return to the starting role, Goran Dragic put up 14 points. He might have done more, but after picking up two fouls early (one of which was a questionable call) he had to sit. Later in the game, he collided with Mo Williams and was bloodied up, so he stepped out. Markieff Morris finally cooled off, putting up eight points, four assists and four rebounds, and being partially responsible for the late-game failure, though he played excellent defense, contributing three steals. Miles Plumlee put up another double-double, putting up 10 points and 10 boards. Gerald Green, who came off the bench but still saw a lot of time, added 17, and Eric Bledsoe dropped 23 points.
The Suns fall to 5-3, which isn’t too bad seeing as all three losses were on the road, against good teams, and were decided by less than eight points. The Suns return to defend their perfect home record against the Nets on Friday.