T.J. Warren gave it everything he had and the Suns had a chance to win in the final seconds, despite a Damian Lillard onslaught to try to take the game over.
Minutes earlier, Brandon Knight’s SLAM sparked the Suns (down 90-83 at the time) and the crowd to the big finish.
P.J. Tucker had a chance to give the Suns a lead with 15 seconds left, but missed the second free throw to leave the game tied 101-101.
But just as the Suns looked ready to give up the go-ahead points (come on, you expected it too!), they hustled and forced a Lillard turnover and called timeout with 6.7 seconds left.
Could this be?
YES IT COULD!
Bledsoe with the drive to the hoop AND THE SCORE with 1.1 seconds left to give the Suns a 103-101 lead!
But of course, Portland scored 1.0 seconds later on the clock. Meyers Leonard of all players broke free of the pile and caught the pass for the finish as time expired.
The Suns did not fold. They did NOT go quietly into that good night. They fought. They fought against the dying of the light!
Booker. Bledsoe. Knight. All huge.
THE SUNS WI—
But then the Blazers converted consecutive three point plays. Of course. And what was once a 6-point lead was suddenly a tie. Booker inexplicably kept his hand on Lillard’s hip for his entire drive to the hoop, and Lillard got the call.
AND THEN ERIC BLEDSOE MADE A THREE AT THE BUZZER TO WIN!!!
T.J. Warren - 27 points, 7 rebounds
Tyson Chandler - 18 big rebounds
Eric Bledsoe - 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Devin Booker - 15 points, 2 assists
Brandon Knight - 16 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds
Alex Len - 18 points, 6 rebounds
While a baseball game was going on, the Suns and Blazers tipped off as the Blazers made their first three three-pointers - a long one by Lillard, a bank-shot by Aminu, then a leaner from the corner by McCollum. Portland’s night?
Meanwhile, the Suns offense looks completely lost. They have no idea what anyone is going to do at any given moment. No one is moving or cutting or slashing to create space or driving lanes or anything.
Portland made another three and took a 14-3 lead on a 14-0 before the Suns started to score again.
The Suns pulled back into the game, getting the score to 20-16 before muffing a couple of fast breaks and letting Portland win a couple of 50/50 balls.
The Suns kept it close the rest of the quarter by picking up their own energy level just enough to distract from the bad looking offensive execution.
They took their first lead at 26-25 and soon ended the quarter tied at 28-28.
C.J. McCollum had 12 first quarter points on 4-6 shooting, but Marquese Chriss had a nice contest at the end of the quarter to deny McCollum his patented baseline jumper. Lillard had 8 points of his own.
Phoenix had 7 different scorers in the first quarter, led by T.J. Warren and Alex Len with 6 each.
This quarter had been the Suns death knell so far this season, and this quarter began no different. The Blazers started on a 9-3 run, the last four points on a pair of Evan Turner walk-into mid-range jumpers.
After stumbling out of the gate, the Suns pulled back with 43-41 on a Devin Booker fast break.
Alex Len was the Suns best player, contesting shots and grabbing offensive rebounds and putbacks. He had 12 points (4-7 FG!!, 4-4 FTs) and 6 rebounds in his first 11 minutes on the floor. It helped that Meyers Leonard was his foil, but still gotta give him props.
Late in the quarter the Suns went on a 10-0 run to take a 53-50 lead before Portland made YET ANOTHER three - making them 8-for-13 to start the game. 8-for-13.
A couple late shots gave the Suns a 57-53 halftime lead.
Warren and Len led the Suns with 12 points each at halftime, just like we all expected.
(big blank space while I’m watching the craziness of this Game 7)
So, the Suns and Blazers played a third quarter while the 8th/9th inning of the World Series was happening. Some guys scored. Some didn’t. The quarter ended with the Suns leading by 3.
76-73 Suns after 3.
Tied at 81-81 when I looked up from the rain-delayed WS and see there’s a Suns game still afoot.
By this time, Bledsoe, Booker and Knight all were shooting about 25% for the game yet still close enough to smell their first win of the year.
But then the players may have all noticed the crowd looking at them again (instead of their phones) and suddenly the Blazers jumped to a 88-83 lead on a Leonard three and assist on consecutive possessions.
Then suddenly Brandon Knight made the hero shot of all hero shots with a huge throw down in traffic when the Suns needed energy the most. Knight’s dunk ignited the crowd, which in turn may have inspired the team to a higher energy level too.
Now it’s just about making the right plays at the right times. Not everything has to be great. Just most.
Chandler getting his pocket picked by Lillard when trying to post up the little guy was one of those not-so-great plays.
T.J. Warren scoring in traffic was a good play, but giving up a three-point play to C.J. McCollum was not. And then giving Lillard a pass to the basket wasn’t good either. Blazers back to a 4-point lead.
Then T.J. with the and-one!
Lillard took over, scoring several consecutive times down the court.