Bledsoe has 33 and Suns beat Blazers 101-90
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Same team, consecutive nights, similar outcome: Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight led the Phoenix Suns to a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers again.
Bledsoe and Knight combined for 60 points and Phoenix beat the Blazers 101-90 on Saturday night.
The night before in Phoenix, the duo combined for 40 points and the Suns prevailed 110-92 over the Blazers
”It’s tough to beat any team twice,” said Bledsoe, who was one shy of his career high with 33 points on Saturday.
Damian Lillard, the lone Portland starter left over from last season, had 23 points for the Blazers, who are still getting accustomed to all the new faces.
CJ McCollum, who had a career-high 37 points in Portland’s season-opening victory against New Orleans last Wednesday, had 16 against the Suns in Phoenix then 15 at home.
Tyson Chandler, signed by the Suns in the offseason, had 15 points and 13 rebounds in the win on Friday, but had five points and 11 rebounds in Portland.
Meyers Leonard’s consecutive jumpers gave Portland a 79-78 lead in the fourth quarter but Bledsoe answered with a jumper.
Knight banked a layup to put Phoenix ahead 88-81 with 4:20 left and Portland could not catch up. He finished with 27 points.
”When you have two guys who can penetrate and shoot and make the right play, it is going to work fine,” Knight said of the chemistry with Bledsoe. But, he added: ”It’s about all of us, really, meshing and jelling and finding the right way to play together.”
The game was contentious at the start, when Mason Plumlee and Chandler started pushing and exchanged words. Both players were given technical fouls.
The Suns led for much of the first half. Portland briefly took a 32-30 lead in the second quarter on Alan Crabbe’s 3-pointer, but it was short-lived.
Markieff Morris hit a 3-pointer that gave the Suns a 54-43 lead in the midst of a 14-5 run to end the first half. Al-Farouq Aminu made a 3-pointer for the Blazers to close within 56-48.
”We haven’t been playing together that long, especially in real game situations,” Lillard said. ”It’s just going to take time and experience in situations for us to be able to execute and do the things necessary to win the game down the stretch.”
Blazers: Maurice Harkless started the second half in place of Leonard, who missed all three shots from the field. He finished 3 of 8.
Suns: Morris got into foul trouble, collecting his fourth early in the third quarter, and was replaced by Jon Leuer. … The Suns lost their opener at home to Dallas 111-95 last Wednesday. … Bledsoe’s career high is 34, at Houston last March.
Asked if he liked the back-to-back against the same team in different cities, Blazers coach Terry Stotts said he didn’t mind it. ”After you get beat you have a chance to make up for it right away,” he said.
It was the first of 14 back-to-backs for the Suns this season. Last season the Suns were 10-8 in the first games, but only 6-12 in the second of back-to-backs.
”I would say probably the biggest key for us last year on back-to-back games, we just didn’t have the same juice, the same energy,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. ”And I was proud of our guys because we got here late, and so did they, but I felt like the energy for both teams was pretty high.”
Chandler, who signed a four-year deal worth $52 million with the Suns in the offseason, struggled with back spasms during the preseason. But Hornacek says when he’s out there ”he makes a world of difference” especially contesting shots.
”He may not block them all, but he contests a lot of them, and I think it gives our guys confidence they can be a little more aggressive out on the court knowing that they have somebody back there,” Hornacek said.
Trail Blazers: Visit Minnesota on Monday.
Suns: Visit Clippers on Monday.