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Suns vs. Trail Blazers Final Score: Jusuf Nurkic and Nassir Little inflict revenge on former team, Suns win 120-107

Kevin Durant and Devin Booker combined for 59 points, but it was the former Blazers that had a major impact.

In-Season Tournament - Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Four in a row.

The Phoenix Suns welcomed the Portland Trail Blazers to the Footprint Center on Tuesday night, and it was the return of the Suns only number one pick in franchise history, Deandre Ayton. It was a game full of storylines, a Jusuf Nurkic and Nassir Little would be playing their former team as well.

The impact of Nurkic and Little, most notably in the third quarter, was the ancillary performances needed to fortify the Booker/Durant duo. Nurkic scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting while grabbing 12 rebounds. Little, who has taken advantage of the Yuta Watanabe injury, scored 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting and had 5 rebounds.

Kevin Durant was, well, Kevin Durant. Despite not winning the Western Conference Player of the Week for his 36 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 7.7 assists, KD was cooking. He scored 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting and grabbed 9 boards. Kevin Durant has now scored more than 25 points in 13 consecutive games, a franchise record.

In his return to Phoenix, Ayton went for 18 and 8, but it was Jerami Grant’s 26 points and 6 assists that kept the Blazers afloat. Devin Booker, who was chirping at Ayton in the latter part of the game, added 28 points and 6 assists.

The Suns win lifts their record to 2-1 in the In-Season Tournament and brings them to 8-6 on the season. The Trail Blazers are now 3-11.


Game Flow

First Half

Prior the the start of the game, Ayton was introduced to is former home crowd. The response? I’ll let you decide.

The first possession of the game? Ayton facing up against the man he was traded for (amongst others) in Jusuf Nurkic. The result? Nurk picked his pocket. Zoinks, Scooby!

In his 1,000th career game, it was KD early and often for Phoenix, scoring 9 of the Suns’ first 11 points. Grayson Allen added a pair of breakaway slam dunks to energize the In-Season Tournament crowd. Josh Okogie and Nassir Little were Vogel’s choice to come off the bench first for Phoenix, and with Yuta Watanabe out, Little is being afforded the opportunity to get minutes.

Deandre Ayton was the offense for the Blazers in the first quarter, scoring 12 of Portland’s first 18 points. He finished the quarter with 6-of-10 shooting for the 12 points, as well as grabbing 5 rebounds.

The Suns shot 77.8% from the field in the first (14-of-18) to the Blazers’ 36% (9-of-25), leading 34-21 after one quarter. Durant had 14 points and Phoenix was off and running.

An 8-4 run by Portland prompted an early Vogel timeout as their second team unit was playing with urgency and Phoenix needed to stop the run. It was a slog on a second, with offensive rebounds by the Blazers and turnovers by the Suns keeping Portland in the game. Phoenix took their foot off the gas in a big way as the Blazers outscored the Suns 18-6 before Vogel’s next timeout and the score 40-39.

Fouls, whistles, free throws; the second quarter was unpleasant on the eyes as the purple and teal court in which it was played.

Vogel made an adjustment that we’ve been waiting to see: he played Chimezie Metu at the five, giving the sixth-year big some play. Finally. He responded by bodying up Deandre Ayton on his first play out of the gate. DA is an athletic center and Nurkic and Eubanks were having issues with him. Metu as an adjustment is another bullet in the gun for Frank.

Phoenix cooled considerably in the second, shooting 27.8% (5-of-18) while the Blazers shot 55% (11-of-20), including 7of-14 from deep. Durant scored 0 second quarter points, and at the half, it was a 5-point Phoenix lead, 56-51.

18 second chance points for Portland was a killer for Phoenix.

Second Half

The halftime adjustment was to attack the cylinder. Jusuf Nurkic, playing against his former team, opened up the third with a pair of interior dunks. Devin Booker, who had 12 points at the half, was much more aggressive as well, scoring 4 quick points as well. Phoenix pushed the lead to 11 points on a Durant fast break dunk, capping a 16-10 start to the third.

Nassir Little and Josh Okogie were impactful on both ends of the floor with their hustle and engagement, creating extra possessions. I’m really liking Nas, and I feel an article is coming expressing what I’m seeing from him. He has taken the opportunity and is making an impact. He was 2-of-4 in the quarter for 7 points.

The three-ball kept Portland hanging around, as through three quarters, they were 11-of-25 (44%). The veteran Jerami Grant had 13 points in the third.

Phoenix shot much better, scoring 38 points in the quarter behind 12 points from KD and 11 from Nurkic. After three quarters, Suns led by 12, 94-82.

For the first time in quite some time, the Suns began the fourth quarter looking like a basketball team. They matched Portland bucket-for-bucket for the first four minutes of the fourth, which has been the period of late when they have struggled.

Nurkic and Little continued to be the ancillary pieces that were throwing daggers in the fourth. Kevin Durant was doing Kevin Durant things, but it was three-pointers from Nurkic and weakside defensive disruption for Nassir Little that hurt the Blazers.

Phoenix outscored the Blazers 26-25 in the fourth quarter, and won running away 120-107.


Next up for the Suns? Tomorrow night the Golden State Warriors are in town! Turn on, tune in, and zone out!

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