The Suns lead by 21 at halftime, then by 40 midway through the fourth quarter. Chris Paul did not play in the game, but Devin Booker made his return with 17 points in 18 first-half minutes. Deandre Ayton chipped in 8 points and 11 rebounds in 15 first-half minutes of his own.
The second half belonged to the Suns bench players, blowing the Blazers off the floor. Four different bench players had 10+ points, while Elfrid Payton came close to a triple double (8/9/8 with 4 steals) as Payne’s backup without looking like he was forcing anything.
Suns fans gave the team a standing ovation as the clock ran out with a Suns win, 119-74.
—Get some rest Chris Paul and WELCOME BACK Devin Booker!
How it unfolded
The whole regular Blazers lineup began the game, while Chris Paul sat out for the Suns and Devin Booker made his first appearance since winning the gold medal at the Olympics.
Cameron Payne got the start in place of Chris Paul, his first start since putting up 29 points, 9 assists and 0 turnovers to help the Suns win game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.
Devin Booker missed a three on the Suns first possession, followed by a Suns steal and a Mikal Bridges side-step three.
13 of the game’s first 17 shots were threes, and that does not include both Jae Crowder and C.J. McCollum launching with a toe on the line. So really it’s 15 of the first 17.
After half a quarter, just as Devin Booker drains his first three of the game (1 for 3 so, on par) the Blazers called a timeout down 15-6 because they simply could not make a bucket. Both teams were living on wide open shots, but the Blazers (2 for 10, 0 for 6) just couldn’t convert like the Suns (6 for 13, 3 for 9).
The Suns only made one of their next seven shots, but still led 18-10 as both teams turned to all-sub lineups.
For all the misses, the Suns ball movement has been top notch all game. Quick, decisive passing leading to wide open shots they’re just not draining.
Still, Suns up 23-11 after one.
The second quarter was held down by the Cam-Sham-Jam lineup. They didn’t make many more shots, but they played with a level of effort that just kept the Blazers at bay anyway. By the time JaVale McGee got subbed out (8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 diving hustle foul) he got a standing ovation from a Suns crowd dying to get involved.
I think we’re going to see a lot a 5-minute stints by JaVale that end in standing ovations this year.
Suns were up 44-31 with just over 3 min left in the half, no longer allowing the Blazers to get any open shots but still struggling to make all the open ones they were getting themselves with really pretty passing. I love watching this team.
Deandre Ayton approached a double-double by halftime (8 points, 11 rebounds), while Devin Booker drained 17 points on 10 shots and the Suns built the lead to 52-35 to force another Blazers timeout.
Suns up 59-38 at halftime. Ayton and McGee combined for 18 points, 15 rebounds and 2 steals while guarding the rim incredibly well. Mikal Bridges is tied for the team lead with 4 assists (Elfrid Payton also has 4).
Suns shooting 49%. Blazers shooting 27%. Blazers are playing their regulars, folks. Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington and Normal Powell all played 15+ minutes in the half. Suns are without Chris Paul, but otherwise playing a regular rotation with Elfrid Payton getting extra minutes.
I know its preseason, but these Suns are just trucking teams. Shamet, McGee and even Payton are such clean additions. I think opponents are going to start — really soon — saying the Suns are even better this year.
The Blazers came out more focused and got a catch-and-shoot three from RoCo, then an offensive rebound putback from Damian Lillard. They returned with four of their starters.
The Suns, on the other hand, did not bring back any starters. To start the half, the Suns went with bench lineup led by Cam Payne, with Landry Shamet, Abdel Nader, JaVale McGee and Cam Johnson.
So of course the Suns bench proceeded to outscore the Blazers starters 20-12 in the first half of the third (even including that 5-0 Blazer spurt). Suns bench vs. Portland starters!
Soon it was 87-50 as both teams went again to their bench. At this point, it was the BENCHbench coming for both teams.
This is when we got the first Marquese Chriss sighting in a Blazers uniform. He quickly caught the ball in a post-up situation and turned it over.
Four bench players — Landry Shamet (12), Abdel Nader (11), Cameron Johnson (11), JaVale McGee (10) — have scored in double figures.
Elfrid Payton leads the team with 7 assists and 4 steals, and also has 5 rebounds and 4 points. And we’re still in the third quarter.
Holy crap this team is good.
Suns up 93-60 after 3 quarters.
The fourth quarter was just an exercise in watching guys who mostly won’t play for the Suns this year, but it’s fun to watch nonetheless.
Jalen Smith spent a lot of time with Frank on the court, meaning he spent a lot of time hanging in the corner for a kick-out. He was not very productive in this game, just missing threes by inches and not really getting to the rebounds he’d been getting before this game.
Chandler Hutchison looked like his rep. Think of him as a less skilled Abdel Nader — always ready to attack the basket but less able to get there, and less able to hit the three when they don’t close out.
Frank is Frank. He’s always Frank.
Elfrid looks like a really good insurance policy in case of injury/rest to Payne or Paul. He does just about everything out there except shoot. He’s finished with 9a/7r/6p/4s/1b with no turnovers in 18 minutes.
Suns lead 108-68 with about 5 minutes left.
Just for grins, here’s a tweet from Kellan Olson.