PHOENIX – The Portland Trail Blazers (1-1) couldn’t follow up their win over the Lakers and worked to fight back from a tough first half to ultimately fall 104-93 on the road against the Phoenix Suns (1-1).
Rookie Damian Lillard was the clear MVP last game, but it was rookie Meyers Leonard who stole the show Friday night. Leonard nearly put in a double-double performance with 14 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes of action, the fewest of any starter for the Blazers. Lillard (15 points, five assists, five turn overs) played the most minutes for any player from either team at 35.
“The thing I really want is for (Leonard) not to get caught up in whether he made a bad play, but just keep playing,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said to Oregon Live. “Don’t overanalyze it, but keep playing. He wants to do well. And when he makes mistakes, he’s hard on himself and wants answers. I think it’s important that he keep playing.”
As far as double-doubles are concerned, LaMarcus Aldridge put in a 11 point and 10 rebound performance in 24 minutes while shooting a disappointing 4-13. And for those who take +/- as an important stat, the reigning all-star was the lowest of the team at -21.
All of the Blazers starters scored in double digits, with the one exception being guard Wesley Matthews at eight.
As mentioned earlier, the Portland Trail Blazers were absolutely abysmal to open the game. Phoenix took a 28-15 lead at the end of the first quarter, with just three Blazers scoring and 5-20 shooting (25%). Portland cut the deficit to 53-46 at half time after backup guard Luke Babbit brought a spark off of the bench, scoring seven crucial points in eight minutes. He’d finish the game with seven points.
The Blazers got a scare in the second half when guard Ronnie Price was taken off the court with an apparent ankle injury. No word on the severity of the injury.
The Suns, without point guard Steve Nash (now with the Lakers) were able to easily move the ball against Portland. Starting point guard Goran Dragic put up good numbers with eight points and nine assists while only turning the ball over four times. Forwards Michael Beasley and Luis Scola also played well as they make their transition from the Timberwolves and Rockets respectively.
Lillard and Meyers will have a light exhibition schedule to lead into the regular season before opening up with the Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder in the first two weeks of the season.
“I just wanted to be perfect and sometimes when I do that, I get to thinking too much and that doesn’t help,” Leonard said to Oregon Live. “I have to go with the flow of the game. I know I can do a lot of things on the court well, but when I don’t, I just have to calm down and move on. It’s part of the process.”
From here, the Blazers will have a busy upcoming week. It starts Monday night on the road against the Sacramento Kings, followed by two home games against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night followed by the Golden State Warriors on Friday.
|LaMarcus Aldridge, F||24||4-13||0-0||3-4||0||1||3||11|
|Nicolas Batum, F||26||6-14||2-5||0-0||0||1||2||14|
|Meyers Leonard, C||21||5-8||0-1||4-4||1||1||1||14|
|Wesley Matthews, G||22||2-7||1-4||3-4||1||0||0||8|
|Damian Lillard, G||35||5-13||1-6||4-4||0||0||5||15|
|Dallas Lauderdale, F||1||0-1||0-0||1-2||0||0||0||1|
|Luke Babbitt, F||17||3-5||1-2||0-0||1||0||1||7|
|Joel Freeland, F||18||3-5||0-0||0-0||1||1||0||6|
|Adam Morrison, F||12||0-3||0-3||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|Jared Jeffries, F||8||0-1||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|Sasha Pavlovic, F||18||1-2||1-1||0-0||2||0||1||3|
|Demonte Harper, G||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|Nolan Smith, G||17||3-9||1-3||0-0||2||0||3||7|
|Ronnie Price, G||12||1-5||0-2||2-2||1||0||0||4|
|Coby Karl, NA||8||1-2||1-1||0-0||0||0||0||3|
|Luis Scola, F||18||5-8||1-1||1-2||0||0||3||12|
|Jared Dudley, F||26||4-7||1-2||0-0||1||2||0||9|
|Michael Beasley, F||20||4-8||2-4||0-0||0||0||1||10|
|Marcin Gortat, C||29||4-7||0-0||1-1||2||1||4||9|
|Goran Dragic, G||30||3-8||0-2||2-2||1||0||2||8|
|Wesley Johnson, F||20||4-7||3-4||1-2||2||0||3||12|
|Markieff Morris, F||17||6-11||1-2||1-1||1||0||1||14|
|Luke Zeller, F||12||2-5||1-1||0-0||0||0||0||5|
|Solomon Jones, F||8||1-3||0-0||2-2||0||1||0||4|
|Ike Diogu, F||11||2-4||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||4|
|Kendall Marshall, G||18||0-2||0-2||0-0||0||0||2||0|
|Shannon Brown, G||28||5-9||1-2||1-4||0||0||1||12|
|P.J. Tucker, G||3||2-3||0-0||1-2||1||0||1||5|