Both team's coaches, however, were quick to cite the Suns defense as the key.
The obvious big adjustment was putting Grant Hill on Andre Miller which not only freed up Jason to focus on his offense but put the Suns best perimeter defender on the Blazers most important ball handler.
Coach McMillian gave the Suns credit, "They took us out of our offense early. They jammed Miller and denied him the ball. We had some trouble getting into our offense and were kind of a little hesitant running our sets. They forced Rudy to handle the ball and make some plays."
But he also felt his team could have reacted better, "That adjustment shouldn't have been that effective. We can run our sets and it shouldn't really matter which guard has the ball. Andre can work a little harder to get the ball, but Rudy can start the offense also. They were the aggressors right from the start."
According to the Suns Jared Dudley, that was the first time all season that the Suns starters have extended their defense full court. That's how important Coach Gentry felt it was to get the ball out of Miller's hands.
"It was as sense of urgency. They came out and played physical, something they don't do as much but that was a sense of urgency game for them," said Miller. "They were a little bit more aggressive trapping the ball, trapping LaMarcus in the post. We were prepared for it, we just didn't react. The game just went by fast."
Grant for his part talked about his respect for Andre and was humble about his own performance but his teammate Jason Richardson, who had the Miller assignment in Game 1, was effusive in his praise, "It's tough. I don't know how Grant guarded him. He did a good job on him tonight and scored 20. I couldn't do it."
Jason went on to explain his frustration with Game 1, "I couldn't sleep until four or five in the morning, just watching the game over and over and seeing everything I did wrong."
Richardson made up for it tonight, scoring repeatedly both from beyond the arc, in the post, and curling off screens. He lead the team with 29 points on 11 of 16 shooting.
Amare Stoudemire's 18 points don't jump off the page, but he was much more efficient in Game 2 (5/10 and 8/8 FT's) and when he did attack it was decisive and aggressive action. Amare also did a good job passing out when the Blazers brought help. His 3 assists were tied for second on the team and equaled Andre Miller's game total.
The Suns second unit didn't do a great job offensively in the first half, but the defensive effort was still there. They took a 6 point lead going into the second quarter and extended it to 9 points before Nash returned at the 8 minute mark.
Lead by Grant Hill's 8 rebounds, the Suns dominated the glass 43-34 and had 26 second chance points to the Blazers 12. Those power numbers are much more impressive than the 17 fast break points and fueled the Suns win.
A hot shooting Suns team in the past might have won a game like this 120 to 115 in a high scoring but close affair. When you combine the easy buckets, the shot-making, and the 58 points in the paint with solid positional and team defense and excellent rebounding, that's a recipe for a blow out.
The Blazers will have to get much more offensive production from Fernandez or Webster through the rest of this series. Especially if Nic Batum can't play due to his shoulder strain. He will get an MRI tomorrow and will be evaluated then.
Coach McMillan seemed resigned to the fact that the injury is serious (who can blame him after the season he's had) but Batum was confident he would be able to play when the teams meet for Game 3 in Portland on Thursday.
Post Game Audio