Portland Trail Blazers (25-28) vs Phoenix Suns (17-36)
7:00 pm PST
Rose Garden Arena
PG – Goran Dragic - Ljubljana, Slovenia - ( 14 / 2.8 / 6.4 )
SG – Shannon Brown – Michigan State University – ( 11.2 / 2.7 / 2 )
SF – Jared Dudley – Boston College – ( 11.5 / 3.6 / 2.5 )
PF – Luis Scola - Buenos Aires, Argentina - ( 12.8 / 6.4 / 2.4 )
C – Marcin Gortat - Lodz, Poland - ( 11.3 / 8.7 / 1.3 )
Portland Trail Blazers
PG – Damian Lillard – Weber State University - ( 18.3 / 3.2 / 6.5 )
SG – Wesley Matthews Jr – Marquette University - ( 14.8 / 2.9 / 2.7 )
SF – Nicola Batum - Lisieux, France - ( 15.3 / 5.9 / 4.9 )
PF – LaMarcus Aldridge – University of Texas, Austin - ( 20.9 / 8.8 / 2.5 )
C – J.J. Hickson – North Carolina State University - ( 12.7 / 10.3 / 1 )
Matchup to Watch
Damian Lillard vs Goran Dragic
In what has been a really tough season for Suns fans, the Dragic acquisition has at least tempered the pain. The one-time heir apparent who studied under Steve Nash left and came back to the valley of the sun, and is having a respectable if not spectacular season. That he’s not having an all-world season is due more to the fact that he’s surrounded with selfish scrubs than anything. He’s a crafty left hander who has given Portland fits in the past and the only consistant and reliable perimeter player on the Suns.
Lillard is coming off of the NBA Skills Challenge over the All Star weekend. He joins Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, Nash, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Stephen Curry, and Tony Parker as winners of the competition. Impressive group, meaningless award, mind-numbingly boring obstacle course.
Comparing head-to-head numbers is really more telling when there have been 10+ previous matchups, so these numbers don’t mean a whole lot on their face, but here they are just for fun:
Two previous matchups
MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT% TRB AST STL TOV PTS Dragic 30 3.5 10.0 .350 2.0 5.0 .400 .875 1.5 6.5 1.5 1.0 12.5 Lillard 37 7.0 13.0 .538 2.0 4.5 .444 .895 0.5 5.0 1.0 4.5 24.5
Phoenix’s Last Three
Loss @ LA Lakers, 85-91
Loss vs Oklahoma City, 69-97
Loss @ Oklahoma City, 96-127
Lillard (25/7 assists) led the Blazers to a 96-93 home victory back on December 22nd. Hickson (19/15) had one of his more impressive double-doubles and Batum (13/9/8) barely missed out on a triple-double.
Gortat (18/9) led the Suns and Dudley dropped 10 dimes. Dragic missed a 3 with seconds left that would have sent the game into OT.
Notes & Links
- The Suns are 4-8 under coach interim Lindsay Hunter.
- Phoenix Rookie Kendall Marshall has taken over the backup PG spot recently, pushing former Blazer Sebastian Telfair almost completely out of the rotation. He has played under 20 minutes in their last six games combined.
- Another former Trail Blazer, Jermaine ”Baby Dome” O’Neal, is taking advantage of that vaunted Suns training staff. Save for an irregular heart beat he’s been healthy all season after struggling to stay on the court in Boston.
- Continuing down the former-Blazer-news path, Channing Frye has been out all season with an enlarged heart and is not expected back any time this year. Check out this Jason Quick piece about Frye and his struggle to cope with life sans ball.
- Suns fans are high on P.J. Tucker, who played his college ball at Texas with Aldridge. Don’t be surprised to see him guarding Lillard in the fourth quarter is the game is close.
- Oh, they have Michael Beasley, too. The current NBA epitome of wasted talent, Beasley is making $6 million a year to be wildly inconsistant and selfish on a lottery-bound team. Remember when there was a debate between Beasley and Derrick Rose for the #1 pick? Had the Bulls taken Beasley and Miami picked Rose the NBA landscape would look very, very different right now. Ah, speculation!
- I expect the Suns to make a move by the deadline on Thursday. Or, I mean, I just want them to because their team is so awful and unlikeable to boot. I was a Suns fan during the Nash era and have a soft spot for the franchise. The players I’m going to watch for in trades are Dudley and Gortat. Dudley is an above average NBA player with a reasonable contract and the desire to play defense: basically what every championship-hopeful team covets. Gortat is a very large man with a decent contract that ends after next season. He’s proven that he can score and rebound, but he is a much better player when paired with a pass-first point guard.
- If you know me, you know I don’t hold Suns owner Robert Sarver in high regard. I hold him personally responsible for keeping Nash from winning a title. Seriously, if you buy a professional sports team and that team is one move away from winning a title you have to go for it. Not sell draft picks to the highest bidder, not chase Joe Johnson out of Arizona with lowball contract offers. There’s nothing more annoying in professional athletics than a cheap rich guy. For a more complete rundown of the Sarver era peep this old Bill Simmons article.
- Phoenix leads the all-time series 127-107. The Blazers are 73-44 in Portland.
- Shout out to Portland’s Terrance Ross, 2013 Dunk Contest winner.