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Rapid Recap: Third time’s the charm as Suns rout Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

After losing their first two matchups by a combined 4 (fraudulent) points, the Phoenix Suns trounced the Portland Trail Blazers 102-82. Only three Suns scored in double-figures led by Devin Booker’s 24, but four more added in 7+.

Suns looked a lot more like themselves in this first quarter than really any quarter prior against the Blazers. They were playing a much more aggressive, demonstrative style of ball more reminiscent of 0.5 offense, and that was evident with none more than Torrey Craig, starting in Cam Johnson’s place once again.

Craig finished the opening frame with 5 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block in 8 minutes in a quarter that Phoenix won 35-26. The +9 margin is the best for any quarter against Portland so far this season.

Down the stretch of the quarter, Damion Lee drew a flagrant foul 1 on Blazers bench big Drew Eubanks, using physicality on a boxout, prompting Eubanks to respond with an elbow flinging Lee to the ground.

Suns second unit — Shamet, Lee, Okogie, Saric, Landale — kept the good play up early in the second. The trio of Shamet, Lee, and Landale combined for 12 points and 4 assists in their first 7 minutes together.

Shaedon Sharpe, the Blazers’ top 10 rookie wing, was the game’s first scorer into double digits, reaching 11 points with a driving dunk in his 12th minute. His off-ball feel was one of only a few issues for the Suns defense.

Devin Booker had one of my favorite moments of the game when he defended a Josh Hart drive, ripped it from Hart’s hands right when he was going up for the shot, then hit a pull-up three in Justise Winslow’s face.

Starters kept on the pressure throughout the first half, including 13 first half points from Chis Paul, a season high for his first half scoring. Booker finished his half with 16 and 2 blocks while Bridges added 9 and 2 assists. Suns led 61-40; the +12 margin was a new best for the matchup, beating the +9 from the first.

In the third, Portland got as close as down 16, but couldn’t do much else, entering the fourth quarter down 84-61 (23 points for those counting at home) against a team that is notorious for maintaining fourth quarter leads.

The Suns bench opened the fourth on a 7-2 run, prompting an early timeout from Chauncey Billups after the lead was extended to 28 points with 9 minutes remaining. It was a balanced effort in the run as the 7 points came from Okogie, Saric, and Shamet with Landale assisting on Saric’s bucket.

Blazers two-way rookie wing John Butler Jr. came in at that point (4Q 8:57), in essence marking the white flag from Billups and the Blazers. It’s the earliest white flag I can recall the Suns prompting so far this season.

Suns cruised the rest of the way to a 102-82 blowout that truthfully wasn’t even that close. No Sun reached 30 minutes on the night. A win by every measure.

Next, Phoenix sets off on a four-game road trip, starting with the Sixers in Philly on Monday. They’ll tip at 6 p.m. AZ time and Bally Sports Arizona will carry the action (NBA TV for those out of AZ).

Booker averages 29.7 points and 4.4 assists vs the Sixers in his career, including 35+ in eight of the last ten meetings (two 40+ over that span).

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