Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers allow Suns to gain momentum late in the third and couldn't recover

Trail Blazers
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It wasn't the way the Trail Blazers wanted to start the Second Half.

But it was also a better game than the last time the Blazers faced the Phoenix Suns when Devin Booker went off for 34.

This time around, Booker turned it on late as the Suns snapped the Blazers three-game winning streak by closing out the game strong to defeat Portland, 127-121.  

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As it has been all season, the Trail Blazers pointed to the lack of consistency on the defensive end following the loss.

The Suns found success at the rim, while also getting out in transition. For the game, the Suns had 12 fastbreak opportunities, but only converted on six of them.

Yet in crunch time, they cashed in from all over.

 

Just when the Blazers looked like they were going to put away the Suns, Phoenix would charge back.

After holding a double-digit lead for most of the second quarter, the Suns fought back to tie it at 60.  

Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard, who recorded 30 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds in the loss, discussed that it was all about momentum.

The Suns had the momentum heading into the final period.

And that carried them to a victory.

Any time you let a game slip away when you play well enough to win it is disappointing.

Damian Lillard

In the Blazers and Suns first meeting on Feb. 22, Booker scored 34 in the 132-100 blowout win over Portland.

Thursday night he finished with 35. 

Now that the Suns hold a 2-0 series lead, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts tipped his hat to the Suns’ offensive star power.

“I think Phoenix is a really good offensive team," Stotts said. "They shot the ball really well. Chris Paul does a great job of running the offense when he’s in the game. Devin Booker had another outstanding game. They shot the three really well. They’ve shown throughout this season that they’re a really good offensive team.”

Stotts also mentioned he would’ve liked to see his team defend better, but that the Suns have plenty of weapons.

Lillard expanded on that, saying it starts with CP3.

Youve got CP out there and hes running the show, Lillard explained. Hes just constantly trying to manipulate and pick and find a way to take advantage of the opposing team and I think hes the brains behind the operation.

 

Lillard went down the list of scoring options for the Suns, and mentioned that the Suns’ role players know how to be successful when called upon.

As for the transition defense, both Lillard and Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter discussed that it was their turnovers and miscommunication on that end of the floor that allowed the Suns to get out and run.   

But they did have a game plan for it.

That was our focus actually tonight -- before the game we said the transition defense was going to be the most important thing for us and obviously they did a really good job getting all the fastbreak points.

Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter

Just like the second quarter Portland held a big lead and allowed Phoenix to come back. The Blazers held just a four-point lead heading into the final period.

But as Kanter spoke about the team’s transition defense, he put a lot of the onus on himself.

“I need to crash the offensive rebounds more so it will stop their fastbreak points, but I think there’s no [one person to blame] on transition we just have to communicate and find the open man and just get back.”

Of course, it wasn’t all about transition defense.

The Suns shot 59.0 percent for the game, including 54.2 percent from three.

Now, just as Lillard said postgame, it’s on to the next one for the Blazers as Portland gets set to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road in back-to-back games this weekend.