The Portland Trail Blazers have a way of getting putting the clamps on the Phoenix Suns late in games. The last time the Suns squared off against the Blazers in their season opener, they took a 81-75...

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Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash (13) looks on as he is called for a foul during the first quarter of the game against the Portland Trailblazers at the Rose Garden on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

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8 days ago: Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash (13) looks on as he is called for a foul during the first quarter of the game against the Portland Trailblazers at the Rose Garden on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

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Forget the reffing. Forget how much you're sick of the Blazers fighting and shoving the Phoenix Suns and ultimately getting the benefit of the calls. 

Forget how many bruises Nash is going to have tomorrow (oh yeah, its a back-to-back tomorrow!). Forget that the Phoenix Suns made Aldridge and Roy look good, despite neither of them playing that well on their own.

It's tough for the Phoenix Suns to win when 3 of their rotation players fail to show up to the game. They lost 106-99.

Hakim Warrick forgot his aggressiveness in Phoenix. He had one - one! - pick-n-roll finish in the entire game. In fact, he had more airballs than baskets.

Jason Richardson failed to show up for this game. He collected more fouls than baskets. His head just was not in this game, except for a 1-minute stretch to start the third quarter where he had 4 of his 6 points. Ugh. In fact, his terrible play allowed the Blazers to put a big, physical guy on Nash during key stretches which slowed the offense to a halt.

But the capper, the biggest reason the Suns lost this game: Goran Dragic.

If you think I'm being unfair, you were not watching the game.

Not only was Dragic a -10 in this game, he killed the momentum over and over again. Offensive fouls, travelling calls, missed shots, and NO aggressive drives to the hoop for a hard layup. It's like Dragic had no interest in the physicality of the game.

And worse than all that? Dragic's horrible presence at the start of the fourth - allowing the Blazers to cut a 9-point lead to 2 in only 2.5 minutes - forced Gentry's hand.

Nash had to come back in at the 9:18 mark. And we all know what that means.

Nash loses steam on too many minutes.

From the 4:31 mark to the 0:39 mark, the Suns scored ONE point on 9 possessions. ONE. And that was a 1-for-2 at the free throw line by Earl Barron.

Here are those possessions: block, shot clock violation, steal, offensive foul, missed 3-pointer, missed 9-footer, missed 3-pointer, missed free throw, MADE free throw, steal. 

There's 3 really bad things here. (1) bad possessions, (2) too few possessions (stagnant, half-court) and (3) no offensive rebounds!

In fact, the Suns had only 2 offensive rebounds all game. That's just terrible. That's lack of movement, big-time.

Give it up to the Blazers for once again forcing this issue, playing hard defense, and making Steve Nash really, really tired. In the latter, that's taking a page right out of the Spurs old playbook. Wear Nash down and the end of the 4th quarter is theirs.

And that's what happened. Again.

(Of course, these are only regular season games. Before Christmas. They don't erase the wonderful beatdown in the playoffs a few months ago. Playoffs matter most. The Suns have 2 home games left against the Blazers to even this score.)




Second half, here we come!


Play big, Channing! (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Rick Bowmer - AP

Play big, Channing! (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

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It's time to get this party started.

The Suns lost the season's first game in a tightly-contested blowout 106-92.

Tightly contested because the Suns actually had the lead halfway through the fourth quarter.

Blowout because the Blazers finished the game on a 10,000-1 run.

Time to return the favor, boys.

At the Rose Garden.

Amidst 20,000 always-supportive-yet-perpetually-relaxed-unless-they're-blogging-about-the-Blazers fans. 

Can you believe that game meltdown on Oct 26 was only a few short weeks ago? Seems like a lifetime.

Let's get some payback, baby. Fight to the finish! Take no prisoners!



 

Suns vs Trail Blazers coverage

Suns vs Trail Blazers preview

Check out the hubub about this game on the sometimes-well-attended sister blog, Blazersedge

Great stuff (slices?) from Coro pregame, including comments on Nash's assists streak, JRich's scoring streak, the Suns' winning streak and Portland winning streak (at home, in the regular season only) against the Suns.

Channing Frye feels right at home in Portland - SBNation AZ feature

 

SB Nation AZ Preview: Phoenix Suns Face Knee Injury-Plagued Portland Trail Blazers 8 P.M. AZT

The Suns look to avenge their opening day loss to the Blazers in Portland where they got killed on the glass. This time Phoenix has a new weapon -- Earl Barron.


Portland Trail Blazers 106, Phoenix Suns 99 It’s funny how things can change in only 20 games. The last time these two teams squared off in their respective 2010-11 season openers the Phoenix...

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