Rebounds and second-chance points hurt Blazers at Phoenix as much as final foul call

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That late foul call isn't the only reason Blazers lost at Phoenix originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

The Trail Blazers and Suns put on quite an offensive exhibition Thursday night in Phoenix and the game deserves further examination, not only for what happened, but the ramifications of what happened.

A few thoughts:

  • The Blazers were outrebounded 42-33 and that led to a massive 17-4 edge in second-chance points for Phoenix. That was a difference-maker.

  • So was the foul line, where the Suns were 23-26 (the only three misses were inside the game’s final 64 seconds) and Portland was 14-18.

  • Speaking of free throws, I did not like the way the Blazers set up the inbounds play that resulted in Robert Covington missing two free throws. First, Carmelo Anthony was the inbounder – as he has been most of the season on such plays. The guy is an 89 percent foul shooter and should be on the court as a receiver of the pass. He’s been making clutch free throws his whole life. Nurkic is a good passer and with his size, may have been a better inbounder.

  • Ideally, the inbound pass should go to Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, with Lillard obviously the No. 1 choice. But they were covered, so the pass went to Covington.

  • Covington has been an 80 percent free-throw shooter this season, but I feel for him being in this spot. The most important foul shots of the regular season should be taken by the team’s very best free-throw shooters.

  • If Lillard or McCollum (or Norman Powell) were not open, the Blazers still had a timeout to draw up another inbounds play. That would have been an option.

  • Challenging that foul call that put Devin Booker on the line was a tough decision, even if the coach said it wasn’t. But I do believe you won’t find many instances in the NBA when a foul that difficult to see, even on replay, is called in a game-winning situation. Referees try to avoid those calls, if possible.

  • In a way, though, it’s better to make the call – allowing for a replay challenge – than to not call it and thus leave challenges out of the equation. But the replay officials decided not to overrule.

  • There is one school of thought I will throw out for all the conspiracy theorists to discuss: would the NBA's replay center want to be responsible for changing a call that might send the Lakers into the play-in tournament?

  • Depending on what happens in the games the next two days, there could be some real incentive for Denver to lose its Sunday night game in Portland to manipulate its seeding.

  • There could be a possibility that the Nuggets guarantee their fourth seed and a first-round series against Dallas by losing to the Blazers, rather than beating Portland and possibly facing the Lakers in the first round. What choice would you make?