The Phoenix Suns scored just one point in the final 5:43 of this game. That’s why the Blazers won 106-92 and the final score belies how close this game was for three-and-a-half quarters.
Well, for the last half decade, when the game got tight and the defenses serious, Phoenix had one of the best weapons in the NBA arsenal to pull out — the Steve Nash/Amare Stoudemire pick-and-roll. They could run that every time down for the last six minutes of the game, you would know it was coming, and the Suns would get theirs. The Suns had one of the elite offenses in the NBA for years for a reason.
Tuesday night, the Suns had no such weapon, and when the Blazers stepped up their play the Suns had no answer. Hedo Turkoglu had six points and wasn’t the answer, unless the question was “who can ignore their man cutting to the hoop the most?”
And that has to scare Phoenix fans. This is a team that is going to get better as the season drags on, that is going to find its footing and win some games with good play down the stretch. One bad six minutes does not a season make. But it could foreshadow some rough nights.
Portland, on the other hand, did what they wanted to do — they won as a team. Team rebounding, team defense, using their depth. They knocked down outside shots. They had Brandon Roy with 24 but four other guys in double digits. They got the win with all that.
It’s the kind of game the Blazers need to win comfortably if they are going to be who they want to be, who they think they are. For a night they were. That’s a good step.