Suns/Blazers Game 6 Recap
Losing might’ve been the best thing for Portland.
by Nick Rattner
Despite the raucous and determined crowd at the Rose Garden, the Phoenix Suns kept their cool and dispatched the pesky Blazers on their home floor. With another great game from Jason Richardson and strong support from the bench, the Suns were not to be denied. They dominated the first quarter, built a solid lead at halftime, and managed to keep their poise and focus as the Blazers, spurred by Martel Webster’s (19) threes and the proud cheers of the Portland faithful, made a late run, knotting it up at 76. After that, they pulled ahead and never looked back.
Though they managed to keep the Suns from reaching 100 points, the Blazers couldn’t muster the same strength on the offensive end, shooting a dismal .380. If you’re wondering why the Blazers were unable to exploit the Nicolas Batum-Steve Nash match-up, you’re not alone. And if you are confused by why the Suns’ defense, lampooned all season for its porous quality, felt (but didn’t look) like the late-‘90s Pistons you are also not alone.
But the Blazers were stretched too thin and were out-of-sync due to Brandon Roy’s injury and perhaps weren’t comfortable shifting the offense away from him after his return. They were riding on emotion and camaraderie and they seemed a little burned out. Nate McMillan has heard the question all series but now it will get louder: where were the adjustments? In the two Blazers wins, Andre Miller and LaMarcus Aldridge has big nights, respectively, but there was no one to fill that void in Game 6. The Blazers just didn’t have enough left and McMillan couldn’t scheme any solutions.
For the Suns, it was another surprising gaff for Steve Nash. Playing with a bruised hip, the guard at last showed his age; he played sloppy, scored only 10, and seemed frustrated. Still, the Blazers were still unable to figure out the pick-and-roll and were instead picked apart on ill-considered switches. Those switches allowed the Suns to shoot a high percentage and keep their opponents off balance.
As it was in two other games this series, the offending marksman was Richardson who dropped 28 and grabbed 7 boards. He looked like a star and silenced those who regarded the first two big games as flukes. Channing Frye also managed a couple big buckets and Jared Dudley (12,3,2) lent big minutes off the bench. Despite a few rough patches and poor shooting, the Suns played a solid game, stayed calm down the stretch, and executed their game plan. They won this one on the strength of their dynamic offensive philosophy and fairly decent defense that somehow handcuffed their under-equipped and seemingly under prepared opponent.
Unless a healthy roster corrupts the Blazers’ heart, then next year holds much promise for this Portland squad. With a healthy Roy they probably would have won this series, or at least made it close. Then there are Odom, Pryzbila, etc. With them, anything is possible. Of course, we’ve all said the same thing for the past however many years. Somehow, it’s still true.