PHOENIX (AP) – Goran Dragic scored 31 points, Channing Frye added 25 and the Phoenix Suns used their up-tempo style to recover from a poor start and beat Portland 120-106 Wednesday night and snap the Trail Blazers’ 11-game winning streak.
Markieff Morris scored 19 and twin Marcus Morris 15 for the Suns, who wiped out a 16-point second-quarter deficit to hand the Blazers their first loss since Nov. 5 against Houston. Two of Portland’s three defeats have come to the Suns, who shot 52 percent from the field behind the speedy Dragic, who was one point shy of his career-high and added 10 assists.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and Damian Lillard scored 16 points for the Blazers, who had also won six straight on the road.
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said before the game that he wanted to push the pace, adding, “We’re not good when we hold the ball.” But the Suns looked sluggish early and Portland looked poised to match the third-longest win streak in franchise history.
But then Dragic picked up the pace.
Playing without backcourt mate Eric Bledsoe (bruised shin) for a sixth straight game, Dragic fueled a 40-point second-quarter with a variety of 3-pointers, midrange jumpers and nifty passes for buckets on the fast break. Frye helped by heating up from the outside. Portland turned a 39-23 deficit into a 61-58 halftime lead.
Frye’s 3 to start the second half was the beginning of a 10-0 spurt and he hit another 3 to start the fourth quarter as the Suns built a 97-78 lead.
The Blazers would turn out to have no answer. And it comes as no surprise based on the teams’ history.
It was Portland’s 22nd loss in the past 26 trips to Phoenix, including a loss on opening night. Not even Bledsoe’s continued absence could stop the surprising Suns from moving to a game over .500.
After limping through the morning shootaround, Bledsoe had an MRI that Hornacek said “didn’t show anything besides what they knew already, which is a contusion.” Bledsoe has been sidelined since colliding with teammate P.J. Tucker in practice Nov. 17.
The Blazers haven’t had the same uncertainty, starting the same five players all 16 games. And Portland came out with much more energy early, racing to a commanding lead early in the second quarter behind Aldridge’s play inside and ex-Sun Robin Lopez’s work on the boards.
But the Blazers struggled to contain Dragic. After Lillard struggled to stay in front of him, Nicolas Batum took a turn on Dragic, who added five rebounds and four turnovers as Phoenix set a season-high in points.
NOTES: Hornacek said they plan each game that Bledsoe won’t play so they’ll be “surprised” when he does. “I thought he’d miss one game or maybe two games. But he’s got to be able to push off and if he can’t then he doesn’t play.” . Blazers coach Terry Stotts said there’s a simple reason for his team’s 3-point shooting success _ 42 percent entering the game: “We have five excellent 3-point shooters shooting all of our 3-pointers. It’s not far-reaching to think that each one of those guys could shoot 40 percent or better on the season. So is 42 percent sustainable? I think it is.” . Ex-Suns F Grant Hill attended the game. . Blazers G Mo Williams (three points) returned after serving a one-game suspension for his role in a scuffle Saturday against Golden State.
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