Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
After playing a nearly even game through the first 36 minutes, the Phoenix Suns decided that the fourth quarter was going to be their time. Outscoring the Blazers by a score of 30-13 in the final 12 minutes, the Suns went on to a 16-point victory over one of the Western Conference’s powers.
Beyond the fact that the Suns picked up a critical win, it was how and where they did it. Coming into the game, Portland boasted a 27-9 home record at the Moda Center. A team that so heavily relies on its raucous fan base for support, lacked to get the home folk enthused at the game’s climax, disappearing in the final quarter.
Having a sensational night was guard Gerald Green. Pouring in 14 points in the fourth quarter, and 32 for the night, Green reminded Suns fans as to why he is worth the constant streaky up-and-down play he so often provides. Going 12-for-20 from the field overall, and 4-for-7 from three, Green filled his stat sheet. He also added five rebounds and two assists to go along with his filthy +/- score of +27, which was mostly due to his ability to become unstoppable down the stretch.
It’s no secret that the frontline of the Suns does not exactly scream production on the offensive end of the court, especially when Channing Frye is not firing from long range. Frye went 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, and when coupled with frontcourt mates P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris, the trio finished a miserable 2-for-17 from the field. (Markieff went off on his own and went 4-for-15, not a flattering evening it its own right.)
In order to offset the high activity level of Portland center Robin Lopez, Miles Plumlee recognized he would have to show up early and often with the hustle boards. Finishing the night with 16 rebounds and just four shots, Plumlee brought a contagious element to the game that allowed the backcourt trio of Bledsoe, Dragic and Green to have the night they did.
Not to be hidden behind Green’s 32-point effort was Eric Bledsoe’s own 30-point affair. His return to the lineup has sparked a team that was completely depended on the streakiness of Green. As the final few games play out, one has to like the Suns chances, as they are finally healthy and playing as one cohesive unit.
The other two games the Suns had an eye on did not turn out in a favorable fashion. Both Memphis and Dallas picked up wins to stay ahead of Phoenix in the ultra-tight race for the final two spots in the Western Conference. At the very least, the Suns held their ground.
Sunday night is the next time they take to the hardwood as they welcome in the Oklahoma City Thunder to downtown Phoenix for a 6 P.M. start at the US Airways Center. Kevin Durant extended his 25+ point per game streak to 40 in a row early tonight, and will look to add onto history at the expense of the Suns. With not much time, and even fewer games remaining, regardless of the opponent, the Suns need wins. A collision with the Thunder may not be easy, but as a wise man once said, “To be the best, you gotta beat the best.”