Going in the wrong direction
There is nowhere to go but up for the Trail Blazers as they head out for a five-game trip that begins Wednesday at New York.
Portland blew a 19-point lead after one quarter and fell 122-116 to Phoenix on Monday night at Moda Center.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Blazers (14-20), who are ninth NBA in the Western Conference, just a half-game ahead of the Suns (13-20). If that doesn't sound so bad, consider that Portland is only a game and a half ahead of Sacramento (12-21), which is in 13th place.
Damian Lillard collected 33 points and seven assists, CJ McCollum scored 25 points and Hassan Whiteside had 16 points and 22 rebounds for the Blazers, who were 14 for 34 on 3-point shots but made only two from beyond the arc in the second half.
Devin Booker scored 33 points, knocking down 15 of 15 attempts at the foul line, and Kelly Oubre added 29 points for the Suns, who hit 13 of 23 from behind the 3-point line.
Lillard scored 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting — all from 3-point range — to stake Portland to a 38-19 lead after one quarter. Whiteside had four points and 10 rebounds in leading the Blazers to an 18-6 advantage on the boards.
Phoenix battled back to within 48-39, but the Blazers used a 10-3 run to go ahead 58-42. The Suns closed to within 64-55 at the half. Portland was 12 for 22 on 3-point attempts, a franchise record for 3's made in a half. Lillard had 23 points in the first half.
The Suns cut the difference to 73-69 early in the third quarter. Portland carried an 89-83 advantage into the final period.
Phoenix drew within 102-100 on a 3-pointer by Ricky Rubio with left. Oubre buried a 3 to get the Suns within 108-107 with 3:36 to go. DeAndre Ayton's tip gave Phoenix a 109-108 lead with 3:01 remaining. Rubio's runner made it 111-108, and Booker's jumper upped the ante to 113-108 with 2:08 to go.
Whiteside converted a rebound, but Booker scored again to make the score 115-110 with 1:28 to play. Lillard's three-point play cut it to 115-113, but Booker's drive made it 117-113 with 1:11 on the clock.
Lillard hit 1 of 2 at the line, and Oubre sank another 3 to give the Suns a 120-114 lead with 43.8 seconds left.
Lillard scored on a layup to make the score 120-116, but Booker sank a pair at the line to push the Suns ahead 122-116 with 15.7 ticks left.
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