As I stated in the preview, only Jason Richardson can stop Jason Richardson. Tonight J-Rich proved me right as he shot 13-19 from the field, including 8 three pointers en route to a 42-point performance, leading the Suns to a 108-89 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, in Portland.
The Suns lead the first round playoff series 2-1 and play again in Portland Saturday afternoon.
Tonight Phoenix picked up exactly where they left off on Tuesday evening. With the exception of the first few minutes of the game, the Suns were back at it, pushing the ball, shooting well, and executing their offense with precision. Portland found themselves in early foul trouble, and within the first 5 minutes of the game, one of the few viable offensive Blazer options, La Marcus Aldridge found himself on the bench with 2 fouls. The Suns responded with a 24-12 run and ended the quarter up 34-16 after shooting 60% from the field while limiting Portland to 30%.
Things got fun in the second as the Suns went on a 16-8 run while tightening up the defense for a spell. The Blazers were pushed to use every second of the shot clock and often put up some ugly, rushed, and or highly contested shots. Two Steve Nash free throws boosted the Suns lead to 31 points, 66-35 as the half closed.
In all probability, Nate McMillan may have either verbally thrashed his team or perhaps brought out and old sappy war story from his playing days, because the Blazers took the floor in the 3rd ready to do battle. LaMarcus tussled with Amare under the basket resulting in a double technical foul. Suddenly the calls got stranger and the Blazers tried their own version of bully ball, especially on Amare Stoudemire. The infamous Rose Garden crowd, who booed their home team in the first half, became an ally and the Blazers played with newfound focus and aggression. Most importantly, they hit shots while the Phoenix Suns did not. The Suns went 5-14 from the field and committed 7 turnovers, while managing 15 (fifteen) points.
In the 4th, the Blazers continued trimming the lead as a resurgent LaMarcus Aldridge and Jerryd Bayless teamed to begin the 4th quarter on 17-8 run. After a J-Rich 3 with 7.5 minutes left, Rudy Fernandez dropped 3 straight from beyond the arc. With the Portland crowd going insane, the Blazers had shaved off 20 points of the Suns 2nd quarter lead and found themselves down 91-80. But the Suns went on a 10-0 run punctuated by a Stoudemire layup which brought the Suns back up 18 with 3.50 left.
With the Suns in the bonus, it was a free throw shooting contest from that point on. Nash hit two to go up 100-80 with 3 minutes left. The crowd was silenced, and the Blazers had nothing left in the tank. Amare Stoudemire then drove for two and it was Phoenix Sun 2nd unit time. Amare, Nash, and J Rich were replaced while Nate McMillan decided to leave his starters in for the next 2 minutes.Read the full story on Brigh Side of the Sun