Phoenix Suns 109, Porland Trail Blazers 93 — Green Week


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Jeff Hornacek must have gotten the message across.

Two losses to the Los Angeles teams in a row made the Phoenix Suns able to see the end of their season on the horizon, but at first against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, it wasn’t clear whether they’d be able to harness the urgency in the right way.

But the wildest of wild cards of all people did just that, and his teammates followed him. Gerald Green came out gunning early, and it might have been described as chucking. At the end of a 109-93 win for the Suns in the Moda Center, Green had 32 points in catapulting his team to a crucial win, especially with the Grizzlies and Mavericks also winning on Friday night and keeping ahead of the Suns in the standings.

The first 36 minutes was a back-and-forth affair, and somehow the Suns kept pace with the Blazers. Phoenix pushed the pace and the guards made it clear they had no intentions other than to drive the ball into the paint. Sometimes it got them into trouble.

Hornacek’s squad forced a lot, but it always came with aggressive and sure intentions.

Phoenix scored 24 fastbreak points to Portland’s six.

The only issue was that the Suns struggled to finish their many looks in the paint. In the first half, they got 25 shots in the paint but hit just 10, all while holding Portland to just 12 shots in the paint. By the end of the game, Phoenix got off 50 shots in the paint to the Blazers’ 30, outscoring them there 48-32.

Eric Bledsoe added 30 points, a few blocks and some offensive boards, and Goran Dragic added another 19 for the Suns.

Phoenix trailed 80-79 heading to the fourth quarter, but unlike the pivotal minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, they didn’t shy away from the pressure. Green threw a lob pass to himself off the backboard for a dunk, then hit a transition three-pointer to cap a 7-0 Suns run in the first 2:08 of the fourth quarter, which gave the men in purple a six-point lead.

Green added 14 more points in the fourth quarter, Bledsoe scored 12 more, and Phoenix outscored Portland 30-13 while holding the Blazers to 31 percent shooting.

To the pregame questions from today’s game preview.

How well do the Suns handle the pick-and-roll on defense and offense?

Aldridge scored just four points in the first half but came out of halftime gunning for the Suns. Phoenix didn’t shudder at his aggression, and waited out a brief storm. Aldridge went 8-for-18 for 18 points and point guard Damian Lillard went 5-for-13 from the field for 15 points.

Can the big brother Jayhawks beat on the little brother Jayhawk?

The Morris twins allowed Thomas Robinson to grab seven rebounds, three offensive, and the Suns allowed the Blazers to 11 second-chance points in the first half. The good news is that Markieff Morris got into the game in the second half. He finished with a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double. He, Ish Smith, Shavlik Randolph and Green had plus-minus ratings at or better than 17 points, giving the Suns the key boost to outdo a thin Portland bench unit.

Will Miles Plumlee give another active performance?

Robin Lopez was out for blood, and a revenge game he had. The former Suns center scored 12 first-half points and finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. But Plumlee held his own, nabbing 16 rebounds in 25 minutes and acting as a threat in rolling to the rim.

Randolph ended up getting important minutes in the second half to handle Lopez and Aldridge.

  • EBJM

    Of course nice win but when you need 62 from Green and Bledsoe………while getting nothing from Frye again.

    Plumlee had 16 boards but Robin goes for 18/13/4.

    Things only get tougher, we all knew the Suns had the Blazer’s number all year.

    Could Hornacek at the very least bench Frye for the remainder of the season? Markieff has earned the starting job already.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Awesome dunk by Gerald !!
    Len has a new nickname….DNP

    Remainder of the season starting lineup:
    Plum
    Kieff
    Gerald
    Bled
    Goran

  • sunsn7

    I wonder if Jerry Sloan would keep playing Channing Frye…

  • foreveris2long

    If Sloan was the coach Frye would be on the disability list. I am just happy (need Ferrel’s hat) Suns are playing meaningful games in April.

    Hawki you might be on to something with that lineup.

  • sunsn7

    That should be the starting 5. Tucker brings grit and toughness off the bench and Frye can be relegated to a situational floor spacer in a reduced role.

    And it is cool the Suns are playing games that matter right now

  • EBJM

    Jerry Sloan would never allow his G.M. to acquire Frye. Utah is the only team I can think of that has always drafted 7+ centers that couldn’t play and I can’t recall one Utah PF that could remotely be considered a “stretch four”.

    The Jazz have had some of the toughest PFs of all-time in Malone, Dantley and Truck Robinson. They now have Derrick Favors and Ene Kanter up front and neither can be remotely confused with being a Frye clone.

  • Dave:f32

    Suns still in 9th place, so it matters. Jerry Sloan is retired, y’all. Frye should be passing waters out to the players when they come off the court. Plumblee finally had a game to speak of. Hornacek is a wannabe coach with not really adding anything to coaching value. He’s doing what anyone else might do, given the personnel and team situation. Lets not make him out to be the 2nd coming of Coach Popovich now!

  • Dave:f32

    @EBJM

    Good to see that im not the only skeptic about this team ;)

  • Dave:f32

    Not too surprised about the result of last night’s win. Like i said, that game could have gone either way. Suns surprised themselves a little…

  • Luka

    @EBJM

    Mehmet Okur?

  • Avi

    Of course your not the only skeptic, everyone should be; the team has completely overachieved.
    No need to dissect them. or break them down, or be mad that they aren’t what they’re not. Playoffs or not, it’s been a great season. Don’t devalue the coach by saying “that is what anybody would do.” If it is that simple, then explain Minnesota this year…

  • sunsn7

    …well? :)

  • Sunsfansince90

    GO SUNS GO SUNS GO

  • EBJM

    Luka nice catch. But wouldn’t you rather have Okur?

  • phx suns fan in la

    So okafor isnt ever going to play here or what? Id keep him unless to move up in the draft because he would help out interior defense and rebounding

  • Luka

    @EBJM

    Yup. At least Okur won a championship.

  • Luka

    Suns could’ve had Omer Asik for Frye but there was no sense of urgency to get that done. Asik recently had 23 rebounds against the Nets a career high.

    Then of course there’s Spencer Hawes last night putting up 16 pts 10 rebounds 4 assists 6 steals and 2 blocks. Suns could’ve traded Frye and a draft pick to get him, and possibly looked to build around him.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Forever

    UConn’s miracle victory over Fla won me the “Money Pool”….$300
    I couldn’t watch….my son came over & was giving me play=by- play while I was playing songs on the computer…LOL…think we drank a case of Coors
    What a Great Day !

  • foreveris2long

    Hawki, man i was thinking of you as UConn came storming back after a slow start. Ironically I was watching the game with someone had a $300 bet on Florida. That was a great game as was Kentucky v Wisconsin. Napier is so good. This may have been the best March Madness I have ever seen. A 7 and 8 seed in the finals, are you kidding me? How many game winners can Harrison hit? Congrats

  • foreveris2long

    I just read Napier is projected to be a late 1st round pick as some GMs are concerned with his size. Hawki I think I would use one of our multitude of 1st rounders on him he was available late just because I think he is very unselfish and an extraordinary talent. I also like Rodney Hood from Duke in the draft. What we do at power forward is the million dollar mystery. Payne will most certainly get a look but a sleeper IMO is Powell in the 2nd round from Stanford. Other than Randall I don’t see anyone who I am really impressed with. Then again I think all of the forwards and centers on Kentucky are better defenders than Frye.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Suns should absolutely take Napier if he is available at the bottom of the 1st round….kid can ball
    Saw a mock draft the other day that had the Suns taking LaVine at the bottom of the 1st…lol
    Generally speaking, I like Hood although he folded like a used lawn chair vs Mercer in NCAA Tourney.
    Powell has great size & knows how to play.

    Only Niang (Iowa St.) & Kaminsky (Wisc) can shoot the 3 as well as Payne…..as far as PF’s go at the collegiate level…and neither of them is as athletic as Payne….not that Payne is super athletic himself…..but I agree with DBreezy that I don’t see Payne in the cards for the Suns.
    Randle is for real but mock drafts only have him going 4th at best behind Wiggins, Parker & Embiid.

    Awesome semi-final games Forever….Wisconsin actually covered the spread….they were 1 1/2 pt dogs & only lost by one…..wow.

    It’s even money that the Suns will get one of the Harrison twins from Kentucky.

  • foreveris2long

    I don’t know what to say about Payne. I like him because he can defend and rebound in a weak power forward draft. However there is such a huge gap between the interior effectiveness of Randall and Payne I am just not sure what the Suns will do. My guess they will take a look.

    Yeah Hood did fold against Mercer but I really like his skill set. I think Powell may sneak into the 1st round so I hope the Suns take a long look at him.

    The Suns this year are like a murder mystery, I cannot turn away from the tv when they are playing. Who is going to do it tonight? That lame duck Frye does not have the guts to pull the trigger. Green, Dragic and Bled will always be suspected of being a cold blooded killer. The Morris twins are excellent suspects because a witness will have trouble identifying which one did it leaving reasonable doubt. Probably not Len or Plumdog because they have trouble holding the weapon.

    Go Suns

  • foreveris2long

    Oh Yeah Hawki, I too like the Harrison twins.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    If the Suns want to make the playoffs and have any hope of beating someone, they have to get Frye to break out of his major slump

    his past 5 games he is giving us 6 points and 4 boards a game in 24 minutes and since the all star break is giving us 9 points and 5 boards a game

    he also shooting 38 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3 with 1 free throw attempt per game

    basically if he isnt hitting a 3, which is right now his only skill, he doesnt do much else on the floor

    Cant Hornacek come up with some combination that gets Alex Len some more time along side plumlee?

    When this team out rebounds the other team, we usually win, and those two are our best rebounders

  • johnfromtaiwan

    Avi, what you wrote touchs my heart deeply! It sometimes makes me mad that so many people still can not appreciate what this Suns team and the coach have achieved this season. Some people are just so critical! Yes, playoff or not, I’ve already been deeply touched by this Suns team’s effort and achievement. If they can’t get into playoff, I will just cry for them, but I definitely will not blame them or criticize anybody.

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  • GoSuns

    I remember seeing some mocks having us take Clausley-Stein maybe he can transition to playing the 4 in the NBA he is very athletic