Trail Blazers vs Suns Tuesday, 04/20/10 AT 07:00PM

Lack Of Intensity Leads To Letdown In Game 2

04/21/10
  1. Written by: caseyholdahl

    Just because you can see something coming doesn't necessarily mean you can stop it from happening. Game 2 in Phoenix was a perfect example of that.

    The Trail Blazers figured the Suns would come out more aggressive in Game 2, which they did, and after taking the first game of the series, one could sense a letdown looming in Game 2 for Portland, which it was. The combination of those two unsurprising yet unstoppable events resulted in the Trail Blazers being soundly beaten by the Suns 119-90 Tuesday night at US Airways Arena.

    The series, now tied at 1-, shifts to Portland for the next two games.

    The Trail Blazers managed to weather a first half onslaught of defensive intensity and offensive accuracy, but a 31-19 Suns advantage in the third quarter put Phoenix on a path to their first win of the series and their most decisive victory against Portland this season.

    "They came out with more intensity like you figured they would," said LaMarcus Aldridge. "Dropped one at home, you figured they would come back and be more intense, and they did that tonight. We didn't match it. They shot the ball a lot better than they did the last game. That's a big difference too."

    Aldridge, who was bothered all night by constant double teams and Phoenix's determined effort to front him in the post, finished with just 11 points. Portland overall shot 38 percent from the field, a number that likely would have been worse if not for both teams clearing their benches for the majority of the fourth quarter.

    “They took us out of our offense early," said Portland Head Coach Nate McMillan. "They jammed (Andre) Miller and denied him the ball. We had some trouble getting into our offense and were kind of a little hesitant running our sets. They forced Rudy (Fernandez) to handle the ball and make some plays. That adjustment shouldn’t have been that effective. We can run our sets and it shouldn’t really matter which guard has the ball. Andre (Miller) can work a little harder to get the ball, but Rudy (Fernandez) can start the offense also. They were the aggressors right from the start.”

    After shooting 42 percent Sunday night, the Suns returned to the offensive form they're known for Tuesday, shooting 52 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. Both Grant Hill (10-for-11) and Jason Richardson (11-for-16) carried the scoring load effortlessly for the Suns after shooting a combined 6-for-21 on Sunday. Richardson was especially good early, scoring 20 points in the first half before finishing the night with 29 points in 30 minutes of play.

    "Jason Richardson was pretty much on fire tonight," said Martell Webster. "No such thing as being too close to him. Our gameplan was to make sure he didn't get anything easy. He made some tough, contested jumpshots and he made some open three's."

    Phoenix's hot shooting was one factor in Tuesday night's loss, but Portland's inability to match the Suns' intensity might have been more damning for the road team. From the opening tip, the Trail Blazers were never able to counteract the Suns' aggressiveness or desire to push the pace

    “They got to that tempo that they wanted," said McMillan. "They came out aggressive and you can expect that after losing a game. We talked about a sense of urgency that they came out with and we needed to match that and we never did that.”

    While the Blazers certainly won't feel good about their performance on Tuesday, they can take solace in knowing that they're heading back to Portland with the series knotted up, though they know they'll have to play better if they're to keep the Suns from stealing back home court advantage.

    "We got a win, but you never want to lose like that going home." said Andre Miller. "We’re definitely still motivated; it’s a seven game series.  They did their job coming in and we got a game,  it’s a series.  We have to go and protect our home court.”

    Notes: Nicolas Batum left the game at the end of the third quarter with a right shoulder strain. Batum missed the first 45 games of the regular season after going surgery to repair a torn labrum in the same shoulder. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Wednesday in Portland... Game 5 is scheduled for April 26 at 7:30 PM in Phoenix. The game will be televised locally on KGW Channel 8 and nationally on TNT.

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