The Suns were approaching the final seven games of the regular season as if their postseason had begun. But it is a worse situation than playoffs. Winning four of seven games might not be enough. Rallying furiously to a 109-93 victory at Portland on Friday night made it seem possible to pull off. The Suns (45-31) were in a situation where they could only help themselves on Friday night. With Memphis (45-31) and Dallas (46-31) winning, the evidence was piling up that the Suns would need some upsets to stage the ultimate upset of making the playoffs. They got one at Moda Center with an upset that seemed even more improbable when the Suns fell behind Portland by 10 points in the third quarter. Unlike how they crumbled over the final 13 1/2 minutes at home against the Clippers on Wednesday night, the Suns played like their season was on the line for the 13 1/2 minutes that followed the Blazers taking a 67-57 lead. The Suns outscored the Blazers 42-18 during that stretch to go ahead 99-85 with 5:07 remaining and cruised to victory to snap the Blazers' four-game winning streak and deny them a postseason clinching. "It was a case of just starting to get after it," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "Some of the guys were saying, 'We can't lose this game.' "If we make it to the playoffs, that's the effort we'll need all the time." The two most-improved teams met for the first time since November, and the Suns took a 3-1 season series by improving the most over the course of the game, finding a way to win with 40 percent shooting or less for the fourth time this season. Goran Dragic, Markieff Morris, Channing Frye and P.J. Tucker all struggled from the field — a combined 13 for 46. The defense was peppered at the end of the second quarter and turned soft to start the third quarter as Nicolas Batum was headed for a triple-double bound, LaMarcus Aldridge hit tough shots and Robin Lopez hit a hook for a 10-point lead and his 29th double-double, 20 more than he posted in any previous season (including four with Phoenix).
Gerald Green carries Suns over Portland Trail Blazers
Arizona Republic | Apr 5