Usually, when a team is set to face the Pheonix Suns the scouting report starts with Devin Booker, and then after a list of players, it will reach center Aron Baynes. On Friday night, the scouting report should’ve started and essentially ended with the Australian center as he put up a monster game of 37 points and 16 rebounds. Perhaps even more impressive was Baynes stepping out and going 9/14 from three.
His ability to step out to the three-point line is what turned out to be the main difference, as stepping out and contesting at the three-point line proved to be something that Hassan Whiteside simply couldn’t do.
Other Phoenix players gave Portland issues in their 127-117 loss. Booker went for 23 points and dished out 13 assists and Dario Saric scored 24 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Portland fell into a big hole early and it took a late first-quarter run to only trail 34-22. However, for most of the second quarter the Suns continued to dominate, eventually taking a lead as big as 59-36, but credit to the Blazers, they put together a monster run. A 20-0 run that pulled the game within three and it looked like they were going to be able to have this be a tight game at halftime where they would have a chance to regroup.
However, the Suns responded to that Portland run by putting together their own 8-2 run, which gave them a nine-point lead heading into the half. Then Phoenix came out in the third quarter as the team more ready to play and they were able to get the lead back into the 20s and while the final score doesn’t look too bad, the game was never really that close after that late first-half Suns run.
Outside of Carmelo Anthony, who really struggled on the night (7 points, 3/12 shooting), the starting lineup was able to finish with good numbers offensively, but frankly, they just couldn’t do nearly enough when it came to defending the Suns.
With this being the first game of a traveling back-to-back with Portland having to travel back home to play Sacramento on Saturday, this was a brutal loss. On top of that, Memphis and San Antonio lost so it was a chance to gain a game on both of those teams in the race for the eighth seed, while New Orleans won their game against Miami.
Given that Portland is in this position chasing the eighth seed in a season that came in with expectations, seeing a guy like Aron Baynes rip their hearts out sums up this season pretty well. Of course, injuries have played a huge role in the disappointment of this season, but again, when playing Phoenix, Aron Baynes is not someone you come in concerned that he is going to have a game like this.
Top Photo: USA TODAY Sports