Phoenix Suns bust Portland Trail Blazers 82-69

Jim Coughenour

The Phoenix Suns kicked off their Summer League slate by kicking around the Blazers in the second half en route to an easy 82-69 victory.

First Quarter

The Suns wore their Halloween costume warmups. All black with white stripes down the side on the shorts and orange numbers and white letters on the shirts... oh, and sleeves.

Substitutions started early for the Suns, with Alex Oriakhi and Chris Babb coming in for starters Markieff Morris and Archie Goodwin, but not before Markieff and Archie combined for a dish (Goodwin) and dunk (Morris) on the break. Well executed set. Meyers Leonard and P.J. Tucker got tangled up about four minutes in and Leonard was t'd up, even though Tucker was the one who spiked the basketball into the stands. Nice to see Tucker's mean streak hasn't dissipated.

Joel Freeland, Leonard, Markieff Morris and Oriakhi were mixing it up inside a little bit... Oriahki lacks Leonard's height, but he's a bit of a dumptruck. Even with the wide body, Freeland appeared to be able to get his shot off over Oriahki. That may be a concern. Arinze Onuaku also threw his weight around inside, which he has plenty of. If Oriakhi is a dumptruck then Onuaku is a bulldozer. Both of these guys should be able to use their bodies to get the position they want... which they'll need to since they play below the rim.

The Blazers, led by C.J. McCollum's six points, won the first quarter (and the point by virtue of the Summer League scoring system) ``19-16.

Second Quarter

Goodwin and McCollum started the second quarter matched up against each other. Goodwin went past C.J. on one end and got to the line, then McCollum ended up draining a floater on the other end after using some creative dribbling to save the possession when Goodwin nearly stripped him.

Probably the second most impressive play of the game to this point was an emphatic put-back dunk by Dwayne Collins, who was a late addition to the Suns' Summer League squad. Collins was the 60th pick in the 2010 draft by the Suns and is wearing... #60. You all remember Dwayne Collins, right?

As the quarter progressed, McCollum started to work over his rookie counterpart Goodwin. Of course that should probably be expected since C.J. is an older and more polished player. Marshall took back the defensive duties and didn't fare better. While both of them looked overmatched defensively, it would appear that Goodwin has more of the necessary tools to become a better defender in time.

Marshall does have his plus attributes, though, which he displayed with a surgical pass to Markieff for a lob dunk. He was also able to absorb contact on a drive and finish the play... but failed to convert the three point play by missing the free throw.

The teams split the point for the second quarter (16-16) and Portland led 35-32 at the half, largely due to McCollum's 15 point first half.

Third Quarter

The third quarter began with Thomas Robinson erasing P.J.'s existence with a savage block on a Tucker drive to the rim. Robinson, who grabbed seven rebounds in the first half, was an imposing force throughout the game.

After receiving a technical foul on the defensive end, Markieff was able to vindicate himself with a put-back slam (complete with hand taps on both sides of the backboard) on the other end. Both of the Morri asserted themselves and were attacking the basket in tandem.

Suns substitutions started early again as the team went deep into the bench, with 12 players seeing action. It will be interesting to see if this strategy continues or whether the bench will be shortened in some games to give certain players extended burn. It can be hard to get in the game's flow with spot minutes.

Stopping McCollum must have been a point of emphasis at the intermission, because the Suns started to run doubles at him on the perimeter. The Suns looked much more crisp on both ends of the floor as they turned a three point halftime deficit into a 50-43 lead with 3:14 left in the period.

The extended bench philosophy continued as Jake Cohen checked in, giving every Suns' player an appearance in the game. The philosophy seemed to be working, though, as the Suns scored nearly as many points in the third quarter (28) as they had in the first two (32).

The Suns won the point and led 60-52 heading into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

Dionte Christmas drained an early three and the route appeared to be underway as Phoenix extended to a 65-52 lead. And by appeared I mean it was.

Markieff Morris hit back to back jumpers and the lead ballooned to 17. Morris's jumper from 20' looked smooth. The Suns pesky defense left McCollum flustered and Portland struggled to find another source for offense. It's a good sign a team is playing stout defense when the other team's center (Leonard) is shooting off balance air balls from three point range. And by air ball I mean he missed the rim by about five feet.

Without about 5:00 left in the quarter the game was out of hand and both teams started playing carelessly more freely. Diante Garrett (and his hideous neon orange kicks) caught a pass and slashed down the baseline for a easy lay in. McCollum found Will Barton on the other end with a pass from near halfcourt for a lob dunk.

The Suns got the point for the quarter and the three for the game, giving them a total of 5.5. Good start towards their aspirations of claiming the Summer League crown.

Final Score: 82-69.

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