The honeymoon from the Jason Richardson trade had to end sometime. I had just hoped it would last a few more games to carry the Phoenix Suns into the Christmas Day game against the San Antonio Spurs.
Phoenix played a great game on Thursday night and had several chances to finish the Trailblazers off. But they could never turn the corner and shut the door completely and the Blazers took full advantage of it. When Greg Oden received his fifth foul on an exaggerated Shaq stumble and with the Suns up by 12, I thought they had pretty much sealed the deal on this game. It’s possible the Phoenix players did as well and maybe let their guard down a bit too much. The Blazers started making every shot and Brandon Roy, who had scored 21 in the first half, decided to take the game over and just wouldn’t miss – scoring 52 for the game.
It’s always hard to look at the good things in a game like this one. Sure, the Suns were on the road and the Blazer fans were loud. But they could have won this game. They just went cold at the same time one Blazer player got hot and that’s never a good combination. Portland ended the game on a 26 to nine run to finish off the Suns. As a kick in the pants on the way out of town, Steve Nash tried to draw a foul on a three-point shot, lost the ball and went in for an easy layup and couldn’t even make that. It’s just how the last six minutes of the game went for the Suns.
Yet again, turnovers (and no answer for Brandon Roy) were the demise for Phoenix on Thursday. They had 16 turnovers that turned into 26 Blazer points. Compare that to only six turnovers for the entire Blazer team (the starting five for the Suns had twice that many) which were converted into a total of 11 points. That’s a 15-point differential and when you’re playing a close game, points off turnovers decide whether a game ends up in the W or the L column.
On a positive note, the Suns shot well as a team with Matt Barnes (7 for 8), Leandro Barbosa (5 for 7) and Shaquille O’Neal (7 for 11) shooting exceptionally well. Grant Hill added four made shots out of four attempts.
Phoenix also wasn’t able to keep the Blazers off of the offensive glass. And it wasn’t just one or two players that were rebounding offensively for Portland – it was nearly the entire team. Portland played 10 players on Thursday. Nine of them had at least 1 offensive rebound. Their starting five combined for eight of the team’s 15 offensive rebounds.
If it makes you, the dear Phoenix Suns fan and blog reader, feel any better, Brandon Roy has scored three of his top four highest point totals in the past four games the Blazers have played. He started with 33 in Utah, followed that with 38 against the Clippers and capped off his amazing feat with 52 against Phoenix. Unfortunately, in the other two games, his team eventually lost. And he was close to losing again on Thursday if the Suns just could have taken a little better care of the basketball of the defensive glass during the game.
But the good thing is there is always another game in the NBA and the Suns’ next game is on Saturday against Denver. Hopefully that game will have a different outcome than Thursday’s disappointing loss.
Your thoughts on the game and on Brandon Roy’s performance?