The Suns defense could not hold up against a red-hot Portland team.
The Phoenix Suns lost their 2nd game of the season in Portland on a 134-105 blow-out.
After sweeping the Blazers last season and handing them a blow-out in the pre season finale, it was time for the Suns to be on the receiving end of it. And I have to tell you, it was not pretty. CJ McCollum led all scorers with 28 points, including 6-12 from three.
For the Suns, Booker had 21-4-4, while Mikal added 14. McGee and Payton each added 12 off the bench. Ayton had a poor 8 points and 3 rebounds on 25 minutes while the Suns were out rebounded 55-45.
The loss is not only on Ayton though, as the Suns were simply outplayed overall. The defense was especially out of sorts, allowing the Blazers to shoot 54.3% for the game, including 42% (21-50). Portland scored 30+ points in the first three quarters and the game was over at the start of the fourth.
The Suns will now go home with a 1-2 record while they prepare to host the Kings on Wednesday at the Footprint Center.
Booker started the game with an aggressive approach, forcing a switch on Covington and exploring the matchup for the Suns first two buckets of the night. Ayton also had some aggression early as the Suns kept the game very close for most of the first. The defense, however, could not keep up with the Blazers, forcing Monty to call a time-out when Portland opened up a seven point lead with 3:19 to go.
A 4-of-6 start for Booker but the Blazers are 10-for-17 as a team
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) October 24, 2021
Payton filled in for Paul, as Cameron Payne missed the game due to a hamstring issue. Monty tried a three guard line-up with Payton-Booker-Shamet while Portland had Zeller and Larry Nance Jr. in the frontcourt. However, the Suns still struggled from three, even when creating open looks for Johnson and Shamet, finishing the quarter 2-8 as a team.
After one, Blazers were up 30-24.
For the second quarter, the Blazers kept their foot down the pedal, maintaining a high percentage from the field and building up a sizable lead against the Suns second unit. Shamet and McGee tried to keep the Suns at it, but after the big man picked up his third foul and went back to the bench, the Blazers lead quickly blew up to 19 before Monty had to call another time-out mid way through the quarter.
However, not even the coach could put the team back on its tracks for long. Phoenix made a run when they came back with their starters, cutting the lead to 13 with 4:07 left at the half, but quickly gave it all back up and more amidst turnovers, giving up free throws and three pointers from Dame and Simmons.
The half started with a 20 point lead for the home team, 67-47. The suns had 6 turnovers at the half and shot 47.7% from the field (33.3% from three). Portland, on the other hand, turned the ball over only 3 times, shot 55.8% from the field and 43.5% from three.
Suns’ three-point defense remains atrocious. Got a night off against the Lakers, but it remains a problem cuz of personnel with the centers and also just open airspace allowance.
— Kevin Zimmerman (@KZimmermanAZ) October 24, 2021
Truth be told, the defense was just not there and the offense hurt a lot as well, and Portland did not seem to have to make much of an effort to build that halftime lead.
Norman Powell did not return for the second half due to a left knee injury, according to the team, with Nassir Little filling his spot to start the half. Portland tried to come out taking advantage of their hot shooting and were able to expand the lead to 25 before the Suns responded with a 10-0 run, with back to back triples from Booker and Bridges, to force Billups to call a time-out with a 9:04 left.
Booker’s triple moved him past Thunder Dan Majerle as the 2nd All-Time on the Suns 3-pt list.
Billups move was effective, as Portland was able to slowly bring the lead back to the 20 point mark through an efficient performance from both Dame and CJ McCollum and a carless attitude from the Suns squad. McCollum had 15 points until 4:17 left in the third, when Monty had to once again stop the game as Portland lead went back up to 24.
Bad enough that the Suns are getting cooked by Portland’s high pick and roll game from Dame and CJ, but they’re also losing the 50/50 balls and playing sloppy
— Brendon Kleen (@BrendonKleen14) October 24, 2021
Portland came out of the time-out to a small ball line-up with Larry Nance Jr. at the five, and Monty once again answered with the three guards and bringing McGee to the floor. Suns had a quick 5-0 run, but, once again, the Blazers responded and brought the lead back to 25 to finish the third up 106-81 after a buzzer beating put back from Nassir Little.
To start the fourth, it was Monty’s turn to experiment with a small ball line-up, featuring Paul, Payton, Shamet, Johnson and Nader. He seemed to have not liked it at all, as it led to five points from Portland before he brought back Ayton in Nader’s place. Needless to say it did not matter much as Portland’s lead quickly exploded to 33 with 9:44 to go.
After that, it was Frank Kaminsky, Jalen Smith and Chandler Hutchison time, as the game was effectively over.