The Phoenix Suns Monday made a bold statement to the Trail Blazers about that No. 4 spot in the Western Conference standings.
Portland sat just a game back of the Suns prior to the game but by the end of this night, looked to be a whole lot farther back than that. Phoenix looked every bit the part a much better team than the Trail Blazers.
The Suns took the Trail Blazers to school at both ends of the court in a 132-100 whipping. Phoenix has a top 10 rating in both offense and defense and it showed.
The Suns hit 48.5 percent of their threes and 50.5 percent of their overall shots, while holding Portland to 30.8 from three and 44 overall. The Blazers also had 16 turnovers, seven of them in the first quarter, very high for a team that doesn’t usually have such trouble.
The Suns blew it open in the third quarter, outscoring Portland 37-17.
“The first first half, I thought we were close,” Terry Stotts said. “Defensively, there were a few things, you know here and there. But I didn't think we were that far off in the first half.
“But obviously, the third quarter -- you know, offensively, we didn't shoot the ball well. We didn't score, and they were very efficient. Deandre Ayton had an impact on the game in the paint. Devin Booker had an outstanding game, but in the first and third quarters he was outstanding.
“So, it went off track in the third quarter, which is an understatement.”
The Suns have made a big improvement at the defensive end. Where has that come from?
“Deandre had an impact on the game,” Stotts said. “I think Chris Paul has always been an excellent defensive guard. I think he's smart, he's got good hands. He demands that of his teammates, so he certainly is an impetus for that. And Jae Crowder is an excellent defender as well, so I think bringing in Crowder and bringing in Chris Paul and Ayton gaining the experience, I think that all has really helped them.”
Booker had 34 points in 29:03 to lead the Suns and Damian Lillard scored 24 for Portland.
Nassir Little, playing like a man who could have been of some assistance earlier in the game, had 18 fourth-quarter points.
The Trail Blazers move on to Denver for a Tuesday night clash in the Mile High City.