PHOENIX -- Did anyone see a career night coming from Aron Baynes against Portland with him starting out the game with five straight threes?
The Trail Blazers didn’t.
Baynes had a career night with 37 points. He tied a Suns franchise record with a career-high nine three-points, matching Channing Frye (April 11, 2011 vs. Minnesota) and Quentin Richardson (Dec. 29, 2004 vs. New Orleans).
But, it wasn’t just Baynes’ 9-of-14 shooting from three that stood out Friday night.
Midway through the third quarter, Trevor Ariza was direct as they come with center Hassan Whiteside.
Ariza went into teaching mode on the defensive end, which is to be expected from a veteran wing player who takes pride in his defense.
As Devin Booker took advantage of a wide-open lane to the basket, which eventually resulted in a foul, Ariza didn’t have his big man to help protect the rim.
While Booker shot the free throws and even into the next possession, Ariza was talking with Whiteside, or rather, yelling at Whiteside.
Trevor Ariza and Hassan Whiteside have a long conversation pic.twitter.com/57V8gyaYtW— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) March 7, 2020
But, here’s the thing: Whiteside appreciates Ariza’s advice.
He was telling me: ‘Don’t worry about Baynes. Go help! Go block shots! Somebody else will go rotate out to Baynes. Go protect the rim. – Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside said postgame
The conversation ended with a high-five and a butt-slap. There was no ill-will or animosity. Just a pure desire to improve.
Even with Baynes going off for a career night and Whiteside matched up against him for a good majority of the night, the Trail Blazers center still felt like he made a positive impact.
“I feel like I affected the game, still. For the +/- boys out there, I wasn’t negative or positive. I was just zero. So, I feel like I still affected the game.”
And, to the fans who may look at it as just yelling from Ariza, it’s clear the Blazers veterans are just working to get their big man in the right spots.
As CJ McCollum explained, the stern talking to is expected from veterans who have the passion and knowledge to help out their teammates.
It’s part of the game. When you care about the end result and winning, you’re gonna argue at times, you’re going to be excited at times, you’re going to show emotion and that’s all a part of the game. -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum said postgame
Both Ariza and Carmelo Anthony shared their advice with Whiteside Friday night.
This is nothing new.
The veteran forwards have been seen talking with all their teammates handing out advice on both ends of the court.
But again, it was the defense that stood out against the Suns, or rather the struggle at that end.
“[Anthony and Ariza] do a great job of communicating,” McCollum added. “We just always try to stay on the same page, try and express ourselves, and talking about coverages, and what we see out there as a unit, and I think that we’ve done a good job of communicating.”
For the 17-year-veteran, Melo is all about passing on his knowledge these days.
“We still have to communicate, we still have to be better at when mistakes happen -- addressing them. We’re still teaching, putting guys in the right position, making them understand why they should be there, and why they should not be there or be there. But, it’s still a learning curve for everybody,” Melo said.
With just 18 games remaining on the Trail Blazers regular season schedule, the coaching within is going to be critical as the Blazers attempt for their final playoff push.