Game 1 of their first-round playoff series was no exception, and the homecourt advantage the Suns worked so hard to get is history after Portland pulled away over the final 4 1/2 minutes to beat them 105-100 on Sunday night.
“We have done this all season long,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said.
LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) added 22 points and Nicolas Batum(notes) 18 for Portland in a game played in the methodical style the Blazers wanted. Jerryd Bayless(notes) also had 18 for the Blazers, 10 in the fourth quarter, but missed two free throws with 12.2 seconds left to give Phoenix a shot to tie. Steve Nash’s(notes) 3-point try was well short, though, and Miller’s two free throws iced the victory.
“We just didn’t play well enough,” Nash said. “I thought we were a shade of ourselves. We’ve got a lot of improving to do if we want to win the series.’
“They were probably the hottest team in the league at the end of the season, but we’re a pretty good road team ourselves,” Camby said. “We came out here without our best player and guys stepped in and contributed real well.”
The Suns won 14 of their last 16, including the final eight at home, and the Blazers were well aware that they had been written off when Roy went down.
“Watching the news, people were asking them (the Suns) who they’d rather play in the second round,” Camby said, “but we’re still here.”
Roy is out for the series after arthroscopic knee surgery, and the Blazers lost Greg Oden(notes) and Joel Przybilla(notes) earlier in the season. But Portland won two of three against the Suns, including a win at Phoenix when the Blazers didn’t have Roy.
Miller was in his attack mode from the start, but found another gear in the final quarter.
“We talked about forcing the issue a little bit and not relying on jump shots,” he said. “We tried to contain them as far as keeping them out of the paint and forcing them to take 3s. And on the other end, we tried not to fall into that trap of taking jump shots and letting them start running.”
The Suns, the NBA’s highest-scoring team at 110 points per game, never got into that fluid style but still led 87-85 after Stoudemire’s 16-footer with 4:57 to play.
Miller, though, made his only 3-point attempt of the night to put Portland ahead for good 88-87 4:28 from the finish, then Aldridge sank two free throws to make it 90-87 with 4:12 remaining. Nash’s 22-footer cut it to 90-89, but Miller made two free throws, Aldridge tipped one in over Stoudemire, and Portland was up 94-89 with 3:37 left.
Nash’s 3-pointer briefly cut the lead to 94-92, but Batum responded with a 3 of his own 17 seconds later and Bayless made two free throws to put the Blazers up 99-92 with 1:29 to go.
The Suns missed repeated 3s before Jason Richardson(notes) finally made one to cut it to 103-100 with 12.5. After Bayless missed two free throws, Nash dribbled upcourt and let it fly, but his shot was not even close.
Phoenix shot just 42 percent and was 9 of 24 in the final quarter, including 3 of 13 on 3s.
“I thought we didn’t push the ball on them or impose our will on them as much as we have to,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “We had four fastbreak points and obviously that’s an area we have to get better in.”
Gentry said Stoudemire is up against a tough defender in Camby.
“Amare is going to have to step it up and find ways to score for us and we’ve got to try to get the ball in a good location,” Gentry said.
Stoudemire said the Blazers “did a great job of playing boxing and elbows— they did a phenomenal job defensively.”
“They clogged up the lane there a little bit,so it was kind of difficult to get into our offense,” he said.
NOTES: The Trail Blazers are 9-9 without Roy this season. … Portland had lost its last five opening playoff games, and their last 18 that were on the road. … The Suns’ Grant Hill(notes) and Jason Richardson were a combined 1 of 10 shooting in the first half and finished 4 of 21. Jared Dudley(notes), fourth in the NBA in 3-point percentage in the regular season (46 percent), was 1 of 5 from long range. … Barbosa scored 13, all in the first half. He missed 15 games following wrist surgery before returning March 26.