Blazers Eliminated from Playoff Race
We all knew it was coming, but last night’s loss made it official. The Portland Trail Blazers are now officially eliminated from playoff contention this year.
Phoenix 125, Portland 107
When: 10:00 PM ET, Monday, April 16, 2012
Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Officials: #34 Kevin Cutler, #48 Scott Foster, #33 Zach Zarba
If you are a fan of defense, you couldn’t have enjoyed last night’s game. Phoenix scored 66 first half points and led throughout the entire game. The Suns coasted to a 125-107 win over Portland.
Phoenix kept their playoff hopes alive, but for the Blazers the rest of the season will largely be about preparing for next year.
1. J.J. Hickson
For the past month you could make a solid argument that J.J. Hickson has been Portland’s best player. He put up 22 points and eight rebounds again last night. Hickson grabbed seven offensive rebounds.
This is a guy that the Blazers need to find a way to keep around for next season.
2. Nolan Smith
Nolan Smith got 33 minutes of playing time last night, and he made the most of it. He picked up five assists and didn’t turn the ball over all game. He also led the team with two steals. Smith scored 14 points in this one as well. Smith seems to be growing as a player over the course of his rookie season.
1. Where’s the Defense?
Coach Canales has been preaching defense, so he had to be extremely disappointed in last night’s effort.
The Suns shot a ridiculous 60% from the floor.
Phoenix racked up 60 points in the paint, and many of those were on open layups and dunks. Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, and Jared Dudley combined to make 24 out of 33 shots from the field.
2. No Transition Defense
Getting back on defense has been an area where the Blazers have had trouble for the last few weeks. Phoenix piled up 27 fastbreak points in this one compared to the Blazers 11.
Giving the opponent so many easy looks makes it difficult to win.
3. Not Controlling Tempo
The Suns wanted to make this a track meet, and the Blazers let them have their style of game. Without so many key players, the Blazers should have done a better job turning this game into a half court matchup.
Only four games remain in the Blazers season.
Portland will host Utah Wednesday night at the Rose Garden.