We got the triumphant return of Splash Volcano in a 127-117 Suns win over the Portland TrailBlazers.
Aron Baynes busted out of his 100-year sleep to splash down 9 three-pointers — obviously a career high by a mile — and post an overall line of 37 points, 16 rebounds, 2 blocks and a couple dozen bone-crushing screens.
Baynes had 19 points and 7 rebounds in the first quarter alone as the Suns blew out to a 27-11 lead and never looked back. The lead grew to 22 in the second quarter (then a brief blip down to 3), then up to 26 in the third quarter. The Suns maintained a 13+ point lead the rest of the way.
What is this team? And can they please stay around a while?
In addition to Baynes career night, the Suns got very good performances from Mikal Bridges, Devin Booker, Dario Saric and Ricky Rubio. Off the severely depleted bench, we saw Jevon Carter make a couple of threes, but otherwise the second unit did not need to play well (and they didn’t).
Portland made a late run — because of course — and got the lead down to 10 with 4:42 left on a pair of threes from Lillard and McCollum.
But the Suns scored on their next three possessions to get the lead back in hand and time ran out on the Blazers.
Baynes splashed down his last three after Portland had pulled to 8 down, putting the Suns up 125-114 with one minute left.
The Suns now have 25 wins on the season, the most they have had in a season since 2014-15 and there’s still 5 weeks to go in the season.
Portland: Damian Lillard — CJ McCollum — Trevor Ariza — Carmelo Anthony — Hassan Whiteside
Phoenix: Ricky Rubio — Devin Booker — Mikal Bridges — Dario Saric — Aron Baynes
Portland: Zach Collins (shoulder), Jusuf Nurkic (leg), Rodney Hood (achilles)
Phoenix: Deandre Ayton (ankle), Kelly Oubre Jr. (knee), Cameron Johnson (illness), Frank Kaminsky (knee)
The Suns started out real hot, while the Blazers missed most everything and the Suns took a 12-3 lead.
And then Aron Baynes HAPPENED. Aron Baynes exploded for 19 points (6-7 from the field, 5-5 on threes) and 7 rebounds in the FIRST QUARTER ALONE. And, on top of that, Baynes absolutely stopped two drives by Trevor Ariza in the paint, both times leaving Ariza on the ground.
Thank you SPLASH VOLCANO. We missed you!
The Suns built a 27-11 lead before bringing in subs off a very short bench (4 guys are out, remember) and the Suns had “only” a 34-22 lead after one quarter. Cheick Diallo, Ty Jerome, Elie Okobo and Jevon Carter all saw time before the first was over.
Portland did not immediately right their ship in the second quarter as skeptical Suns fans might expect. The Suns pushed out to a 50-29 lead before five minutes had passed.
In the second quarter, Dario Saric and Mikal Bridges and Ricky Rubio helped the Suns push out to a 56-33 lead before even bringing back Devin Booker at the 6 minute mark.
Right about then, Portland finally began making some shots, converting on five straight three point attempts. Ariza made a three then got fouled into three more, while McCollum drained two and Lillard each drained one. That got the lead down to 9, at 59-50. All while the Suns missed several open shots and put-back attempts.
At that point, Monty Williams called another timeout to settle the troops and bring back the full starting lineup. Portland cut the lead all the way down to 3 — THREE! — before the Suns pulled back out to a 9-point lead at halftime on another Baynes three and then a Mikal three.
Suns up, 67-58 at half.
- Splash Volcano: 22 points, 10 rebounds, 6/7 on threes!
- Bridges: 11 points, team-high +20 in 18 minutes primarily guarding Damian Lillard (9 points at half)
- Booker and Rubio combine for 16 and 11 at half, while Dario Saric has 11 and 2.
- For the Blazers, McCollum has 16 points at half, Whiteside has 9/10/4
The Suns started the second half a bit out of rhythm, trying to challenge Whiteside at the rim and failing like they did in the first half. His ams are TOO LONG to challenge that way. Just need to keep cranking threes over him.
But then the Suns righted their ship all right, and blew out to a 26-point lead (87-61) before the Blazers even knew what hit them. Baynes was up to 25 and 13 because of course, while Bridges was up to 18 points and performing defensive voodoo on Dame all night.
Then the subs start coming back around the 5 minute mark of the 3rd and we’ll see what happens.
Elie Okobo had a real rough stretch, committing fouls to give up a pair of three-point plays, badly missing an open three and committing open floor turnover. Suns 26-point lead suddenly down to 13. Gary Trent made some excellent, if lucky plays. He got a steal on Elie, then got a pair of jump balls getting his hands in there, and almost forced another turnover. He was a menace.
After the third quarter the Suns lead is 95-82.
Baynes started the fourth with a three — his 8th of the night — followed by a Jevon Carter three to put the Suns back up 19.