Brandon Roy makes a difference. So does good ball movement and the Phoenix Suns’ inability to make shots. But also give full credit to LaMarcus Aldridge — who seems to need the whole town jumping on his case in order to get himself going. And of course, credit the presence of Brandon Roy for opening the court up for everyone.
It was a bit of a weird game. Portland once again won the battle of fast break points, by a whopping 16-4. The Suns quit making open outside shots all of a sudden. The Blazers once went about eight minutes without a field goal. The Suns opened the game with an avalanche of backdoor cuts for dunks. Portland failed for almost the entire fourth quarter to take advantage of Steve Nash defending Nic Batum — I mean, call a timeout, run Batum down the the low post and throw him the ball. He wouldn’t need any post moves — just turn and throw it down in the little man’s grill. Man, a coach like Mike Dunleavy would have made sure whoever Nash tried to guard he’d have a long day — especially if it’s a guy who stands 6-8.
But anyway, it was great to see Roy back on the floor, just eight days after his knee surgery. Among other weirdness, by the way — Rudy Fernandez didn’t play in the second half, Martell Webster played only 12:42 in spite of giving his usual consistent, solid effort, Batum was called for retaliating to a nasty elbow delivered by Amare Stoudemire that ought to earn Stoudemire a fine, Channing Frye and Jerryd Bayless were both called for flagrant fouls that weren’t all that flagrant and the Blazers outscored the Suns 17-5 in second-chance points.
This is why I love the NBA playoffs. Stuff happens — stuff you don’t expect. This was the kind of effort from Portland I wish we’d seen on Thursday night. Even if the team loses after giving this kind of effort, you can’t complain.
I do believe it’s anybody’s series if Roy is back to stay and can quickly round into shape. If he can bring his game up a little more, move just a hair better and stay safe, the Blazers have a shot at this thing. And oh yeah, Aldridge has to keep rolling those big numbers, too.