If you had put money on the Portland Trail Blazers holding the Phoenix Suns to under 90 points last night while also predicting a win by the home team, you likely earned quite a good sum of cash last night, as the Blazers did just that.
Taking on the team that handed Portland their opening night loss (being only one of two teams to defeat them in 2013), the Blazers went back and forth with the Suns throughout the game, staging a late rally to come back and win the game.
Jumping out of the gates in the first quarter to establish a 25-21 lead at home, the Blazers cooled off in the second and third quarters, with Phoenix taking the lead at the half and widening the margin further at the end of the third. However, an emphatic dunk by Thomas Robinson followed by a Robin Lopez free throw and Dorell Wright bucket immediately brought the Blazers to within one point, igniting the Moda Center and sparking the momentum for a rally.
After a back-and-forth battle that saw the Suns extend their lead to five once again, the Blazers cut their deficit with the help of Damian Lillard, who hit two free throws and a bucket to give the Blazers the lead. That wouldn’t last long, however, as the Suns recorded buckets from P.J. Tucker, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, and Marcus Morris to take a three point lead with just 3:24 left to play.
The Blazers, however, would have none of that.
Trading baskets for the final few minutes, Portland found themselves down by one point with less than a minute to play after Plumlee made a layup with 51 seconds to go.
Down 88-89 and needing some last-second heroics, the Blazers got the ball back with just 11 seconds left.
Not attempting to take the shot at the last second, Lillard saw a gap in the defense, cut the ball up the middles, and made a relatively easy layup to give Portland a 90-89 win and eventually victory.
Here are some things to love and hate from the Blazers’ thrilling win.
The Win and First Place
Obviously the way the game ended was thrilling, nerve-racking, and absolutely spectacular, just read the brief highlight above.
However, another thing to love about this nail-biter is the fact that Portland now sits in first place in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference, half a game above the 5-2 Oklahoma City Thunder.
This team could be very special.
Finding a Way
One of the best aspects about this team and their wins this year is that they just seem to always find a way to win the game. Even when their starters didn’t have their best day the Blazers still managed to put the pieces together and come out with a win. Impressive effort by all accounts.
Though Lillard did knock down the eventual game-winning shot with just seconds left in the game, Phoenix marched down the court and had a legitimate shot to win the game themselves. Missing one layup, the Suns tipped the ball around the hoop and eventually saw all their relatively decent efforts fall just short of sealing the game in their favor.
Call it a little bit of home luck, but the Blazers were very fortunate not to have Phoenix sink the last bucket, indicating that they still need to shore up a few defensive issues.
However, other than that, the spectacular finish essentially mitigated any other woes experienced at the Moda Center on Wednesday night.
Though the starters struggled, the bench made up for their play and the defensive effort on the court was fairly sound — save for the final few seconds.
Looking ahead the first place Blazers will hit the road for a Friday matchup against the 4-5 Boston Celtics, a game that will continue to tell us the exact identity of this Portland squad.