Trail Blazers 101, Suns 97

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PHOENIX (AP)—Building a 22-point first-half lead and possibly losing the game would have been disastrous for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Instead, with Zach Randolph scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds and Damon Stoudamire adding 14 points and 11 assists, they hung on for a 101-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, spoiling the return of Amare Stoudemire.

“It would have been a shame if we had lost the game,” Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. “That was a gutsy win for us.

“We’re trying to get better and right ourselves for the playoffs. We’re still climbing and we’ve got a lot of work to do yet. We needed this win.”

In winning for the fifth time in six games, the Trail Blazers shot 63.6 in the first half.

The Suns had a chance to tie the score at 100, but Shawn Marion’s 3-pointer from 25 feet bounced off the back rim with 3 seconds left. Wesley Person then made a free throw to ice the victory.

“They kept chipping away the whole game,” Cheeks added. “They got a wide-open 3. Fortunately for us, they missed it.”

Darius Miles added 15 points for Portland, while Derek Anderson had 13 and Person scored 12.

“The first half was simple basketball,” Anderson said. “At the end we’ve got to find a way not to give up games, and we did.”

Stoudemire, last season’s rookie of the year, played for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks and scored 21 points, 15 in the first half, with six rebounds. Stoudemire had missed the previous nine games and 27 of 32 with a sprained left ankle and an injured right big toe.

“It’s an adjustment any time a guy comes back,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We had to learn with Amare on the floor and it’s going to take practice time.”

Stoudemire played 31 minutes and said he didn’t feel tired.

“I felt good,” he said. “I didn’t feel any pain. I didn’t feel timid or nothing, so that was a good sign.”

Joe Johnson led the Suns with 25 points, the seventh consecutive game and the 12th in the last 13 he has exceeded 20.

Marion scored 15 points and Howard Eisley had 14 for Phoenix.

On his final shot, Marion said, “That was the play we were looking for at the end. It just didn’t fall.”

With Randolph dominating inside and their 3-point shooters going 7-of-11 from long range, the Trail Blazers bolted to a 68-50 halftime lead—equaling the most points they scored in the first two periods this season. Their 37 second-period points also tied a season best for any period this year.

Randolph had six rebounds in the opening period—two more than the entire Phoenix team.

Overall, the Trail Blazers shot 28-for-44 from the field in the opening 24 minutes and held a 49-27 lead at one point. Meanwhile, two of the Suns’ two big scorers—Marion and Johnson—were a combined 2-for-13. Marion finished only 4-for-18 while Johnson turned it around in the second half, going 9-of-12.

However, the Trail Blazers went only 13-for-36 in the second half, finishing at 51 percent. They failed to hit a field goal in the final eight minutes, converting only six free throws.

During one stretch of the first quarter, the Suns went six minutes without a field goal and fell from a 15-10 deficit to trailing 29-14.

The only blemish for Portland in the first half was the ejection of forward Rasheed Wallace. He was tossed with 5:49 remaining in the second period after vehemently arguing a personal foul call and incurring two technicals. The Suns converted all four free throws—two by Marion and two by Stoudemire. It was the first time since the 2001-02 season that Wallace was ejected and the 25thtime in his career.


: Portland’s Ruben Patterson, with whom Stoudemire collided when he was last injured, was a late scratch because of a strained back. … The Trail Blazers placed rookie forward Travis Outlaw on the injured list with patellar tendinitis, leaving them with only 10 active players for the game. … Suns rookie forward Zarko Cabarkapa, sidelined with a right wrist injury, is expected back shortly, while forward-center Antonio McDyess, on the injured list with an ailing left leg, will not return until after the All-Star game, D’Antoni said. … Entertainer Alice Cooper, celebrating his 56th birthday, wasa courtside spectator.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
D. Stoudamire D. Stoudamire
5-12,  14 Pts
2 Rebs, 11 Assists
J. Johnson J. Johnson
10-17,  25 Pts
8 Rebs, 2 Assists

Team Stat Leaders