Kevin Pritchard’s first game as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers didn’t go very well.
He’ll get another shot at his first win when the Blazers visit the Pacific Division-leading Phoenix Suns.
Pritchard, the Blazers’ director of player personnel, was named interim coach after Maurice Cheeks was fired Wednesday. He made his debut Friday in Portland’s 106-97 loss to the Indiana Pacers—the Blazers’ third straight defeat and eighth in 10 games.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 27 points for Portland, which is hoping to give its younger players some playing time now that a playoff berth is becoming less and less likely. Rookie guard Sebastian Telfair, the 13th overall pick in the draft out of Lincoln High School in New York, made his first start, and had 10 points and six assists in 26 minutes.
“I’m really proud of the way the guys came out,” Pritchard said. “Today was a day we could have come out and really shut down. We played hard throughout the game.”
The Blazers activated rookie center Ha Seung Jin from the injured list earlier Friday to replace Ruben Patterson, who was placed on the IL on Thursday with tendinitis in his right knee.
The Suns beat the Detroit Pistons 100-97 on Thursday for their third win in four games. Steve Nash, who missed the previous three games with a hamstring injury, had 16 points, 14 rebounds and made a key 3-pointer and two free throws in the final minutes.
“It’s not 100 percent, but right now the plan is to only play if it’s not getting worse and see if we can get it back to 100 percent on the fly,” Nash said of his injury. “Tomorrow, we’ll have to re-evaluate and see if it’s OK.”
Phoenix has used a fast-paced style to rebound from a dismal 29-53 campaign last season. However, they were forced to grind out Thursday’s win.
“I just don’t think we played very well,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I think we can run better than that against these guys, but they are the ultimate test, them and San Antonio.”