Suns Recap: Not That Rosy After All

Feb 5, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) and Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) go for a loose ball at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) and Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) go for a loose ball at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports /

Well, at least this one didn’t come down to crunch-time execution.

The Phoenix Suns fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 108-87 Thursday night for their fifth loss in seven games and third in a row.

An Eric Bledsoe lay-up late in the third quarter gave the Suns their first lead in 30 minutes of game time and it was the last one Phoenix would hold on the night. Portland outscored the Suns by 20 in the fourth quarter to wrap up a game that could’ve been significantly uglier.

Phoenix had a season-low 35 points in the first half and yet only trailed by 11 thanks to Portland’s stone-cold shooting from behind the arc (the Blazers made just two of their first 20 threes).

The Suns made their third quarter run behind some inspired play from Alex Len and Eric Bledsoe, who shot 50 percent from the field and led the Suns with 17 points on a night when his teammates couldn’t hit a shot.

Len, who sat out most of the first half with foul trouble, suffered a nasty looking ankle injury in the third quarter, which felt like the turning point of the game.

Portland, behind threes from five different players, finished 6-for-11 from long range and buried a Suns team in a fourth quarter where Phoenix looked like they’d rather have been anywhere else.

Len Down

There are those terrible moments when an entire stadium — or from my perspective in downtown Phoenix — every Suns fan/blogger on Twitter holds their collective breath.

With just over eight minutes left in the third quarter Len went up to catch a lob from Bledsoe and completed the vicious slam while being mugged by Robin Lopez. Len went down under the basket and immediately grabbed his right ankle. Despite walking with a noticeable limp Len was able to come back in, shoot the foul shots and actually make the ensuing free throw.

The Ukrainian sophomore turned right around and headed straight for the X-Ray machine, according to TNT’s Rachel Nichols.

Len was shortly declared out for the rest of the game after what TNT’s Kevin Harlan described as a twisted right ankle.

Sloppy Start

The first quarter was defined by mishap after mishap for the Suns. Phoenix, who ranks sixth in the NBA in turnovers per game (not a good thing), finished their first quarter with eight. That number included a particularly abysmal double dribble from Isaiah Thomas and doesn’t include a Suns missed shot that Alex Len inexplicably allowed to go out of bounds without a Trail Blazer touching it.

Being the equal opportunists that they are, the Suns had their share of brain farts on the defensive end as well, allowing two offensive rebounds on Portland’s opening possession and leaving Damian Lillard essentially unguarded for a drive down the lane.

All that resulted in Phoenix finishing with a 15-point first quarter — just four points off their season low of 11 in the second game of the season against the San Antonio Spurs — and a 12-point deficit headed into the second.

Speaking of which, things didn’t get significantly better in the second as they missed a countless number of layups…well, actually, someone counted.

Plumlee Makes a difference

Miles Plumlee has been asked to make his share of sacrifices this season. After starting all of last season, he was benched in favor of Alex Len (the Suns are 16-8 since that move), then took another step backwards in the rotation with the addition of Brandan Wright.

At that point it looked like the spacing-obsessed Suns would either move Plumlee or remove him from the rotation completely. Yet Plumlee time and time again has come in off the bench and made a difference with his energy. He was the only Sun to have any measure of success defending Marc Gasol in Phoenix’s last outing.

Tonight, despite an egregious missed layup and a typically cringe-worthy missed jump hook, Plumlee once again brought a different level of intensity on that end and was the only Sun to finish the first half with a positive plus/minus.

Numbers And Notes

LaMarcus Aldridge became the Trail Blazers’ all-time leader in double-doubles with 220 on his career. The Suns had won four of their previous five games against Portland and had been undefeated through five games on national television this season. Phoenix finished their eight-game run against top five seeds in either conference 3-5.

Finally, Zoran Dragic dunked to end the game. It was awesome.

Next: Phoenix Suns: 5 Reasons To Trade Gerald Green

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