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Blazers douse Suns in season opener

Phoenix suffer most one-sided season-opening loss by any team in NBA history

Image Credit: USA Today
Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (centre) drives to the basket past Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard in the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Blazers defeated the Suns 124-76.
Gulf News

Phoenix: If the Phoenix Suns were a Broadway show, they would close for good after opening night.

The Suns were not just bad in their 124-76 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in their season opener on Wednesday night but plain awful, more so from a historical perspective.

It was the most one-sided season-opening loss by any team in NBA history and the most one-sided loss by the Suns in any game in their 49 years.

Suns coach Earl Watson said he was “embarrassed” by what happened.

“They didn’t have no sympathy,” he said of the dominant Blazers.

Damian Lillard scored 27 points and Pat Connaughton added a career-high 24 points, making four of six three-pointers for Portland.

The Trail Blazers outshot, outrebounded and outhustled the Suns from the opening tip.

Portland tied the second-largest margin of victory in franchise history. Only a 50-point win against Cleveland (129-79) on November 21, 1982 was larger.

“The obvious statement is we played really well,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said.

The 48-point rout exceeded Denver’s 139-93 (46-point) victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on opening day in 1987.

The blowout also topped Phoenix’s 44-point loss to Seattle (151-107) on April 2, 1988.

“It’s going to be hard for me to sleep tonight,” the Suns’ Devon Booker said.

The Blazers dominated even though they were without one of their best players, guard CJ McCollum, who was suspended one game for leaving the bench area during a tussle involving the Suns’ Alex Len and Caleb Swanigan in a preseason game a week ago.

“That was a great way to start the season,” Stotts said. “I was really pleased with our defence through the whole night. Offence got off to a slow start but picked up.”

Portland led 60-35 at the half and outscored the Suns 64-41 in the second. The Blazers led by as many as 58, for a time flirting with the most one-sided game in NBA history, a 68-point blowout of the Miami Heat by the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 17, 1991.

The Suns shot 31.5 per cent to Portland’s 49 per cent, made 7 of 27 3-pointers to the Blazers’ 14 of 24 and were outrebounded 57-33.

Phoenix had the league’s second-worst record last season at 24-58 and looked at least that bad throughout the opener. The Suns have not made the playoffs in seven seasons, the longest drought in franchise history. They are trying to rebuild with youth. That takes time and some painful moments, such as the one on Wednesday night.

Eric Bledsoe scored 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Booker added 12 on 6-of-17 shooting. Bledsoe was 1 for 6 on 3s, Booker 0 for 3.

Portland’s bench outscored Phoenix’s 61-26.

After Booker’s 13-footer tied it at 17, Lillard sank a layup and the Blazers bolted away from there.

Bledsoe’s three-point play cut the lead to 45-35 with 4:38 left in the third quarter, but Portland scored the final 15 points of the half 60-35 at the break.

The Suns shot 29 per cent in the first half (14 for 49) to Portland’s 44 per cent (22 for 50). Phoenix was 1 for 11 from 3-point range in the first two quarters to the Blazers’ 7 of 13. Most tellingly, the Portland bench outscored its Phoenix counterparts 24-0.

It only got worse (or better from Portland’s perspective) after that.

The Blazers led by a numbing 98-55 entering the final quarter.

 

Results

Mavericks 111 Hawks 117

Jazz 106 Nuggets 96

Spurs 107 Timberwolves 99

Suns 76 Trail Blazers 124

Kings 100 Rockets 105

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