Suns looking for win, not excuses, as they tangle with Blazers
The Phoenix Suns are one of the youngest and least experienced teams in the NBA. Three of their first four opponents are among the top five teams in the Western Conference. Those are facts. But to at least one member of the Suns, there still is no excuse for losing.
“We can't keep saying 'schedule' or 'age,' ” guard Brandon Knight said of the Suns' 0-4 start. “At some point, we just have to do what we're supposed to do and the wins will come. You have to be consistent and continue to be positive, and it will fall in place.”
Phoenix will be gunning for its first victory of the season Wednesday night when it plays host to the Portland Trail Blazers (2-2) at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The game can be seen on FOX Sports Arizona and FOX Sports GO, starting at 6:30 p.m.
The Suns are 0-4 for the first time since 1996, when they lost their first 13 games on the way to a 40-42 season. They are averaging a league-high 29.3 fouls per game.
“A lot of our games have been dictated by foul calls,” Phoenix guard Eric Bledsoe said. “We have to stop fouling so much.”
On Monday, the Suns got drilled 116-98 by the Los Angeles Clippers in a game in which they had 20 turnovers, 11 of them in the second quarter.
“That's a lack of focus,” Suns coach Earl Watson said. “We can't let foul calls disrupt our rhythm mentally. We have to weather the storm and be mentally tough and play through that.”
The Suns hope to regain the services of guard Devin Booker, who missed the Monday game with a sprained toe.
They will have the advantage of facing Portland with the Blazers on the second of back-to-back nights after a 127-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Oregon. Blazers guard Damian Lillard said the lopsided defeat should serve as incentive to play well.
“We should be excited about the opportunity to get back out there (Wednesday night) after the type of game we had tonight,” said Lillard, who scored a game-high 31 points against Golden State.
The Warriors broke open a tight game by outscoring the Blazers 41-20 in the third quarter. Portland made only 7 of 30 shots from 3-point range until Jake Layman and Noah Vonleh combined to sink 7 of 9 in the closing minutes of garbage time.
“You have nights like that,” Lillard said after the game. “The third quarter, we slipped up. We didn't communicate as well as we did the first half. We allowed (the Warriors) to get clean looks, and they got it going.
“When we aren't making shots and they are, we have to be able to do the small things. Limit them to one possession, help each other out on off-ball screens, protect the paint, have a tighter shell on the weak side. We have to make it harder for them to make shots as well. Tonight, we didn't do that.”
Layman, a rookie out of Maryland, finished with 17 points in eight minutes Tuesday in his NBA debut.
- Brandon Knight
- Damian Lillard
- Devin Booker
- Eric Bledsoe
- FOX Sports Arizona
- Phoenix Suns
- Portland Trail Blazers