PHOENIX – 115.
That is the number of points the Suns scored in their 115-111 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night, the first time they’ve won consecutive games since early December.
That number represents the Suns’ field goal percentage, as they made 42 of 78 shots on the night.
The Suns beat the Trail Blazers for the first time this season after failing in their first three tries, and in doing so may have rediscovered a bit of who they are.
“You always have to worry about defense,” Jared Dudley said, “but we have to be who we are and our identity is scoring.”
Getting back to the high-scoring, defense-is-optional Suns is one thing, but being able to force their tempo on a team that had held them to an average of 95 points per game this season shows that the offensive firepower, seemingly lost, may still be there.
“We’ve not scored 100 on them this season,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “Tonight I thought we kept forcing the issue and got the tempo up where we needed it to be.”
With quarters of 28, 28, 29 and 30 the Suns clearly had the game at a pace that was more to their liking. Trailing by as many as 13 in the first half, Phoenix started chipping away early enough to where a comeback was not out of reach in the second half.
“I thought this was the first time we won the third quarter in our last eight games,” Gentry said. “I thought that was really huge that we weren’t playing from behind in the fourth quarter.”
Of course, holding the Trail Blazers to 38.9 percent shooting in the fourth quarter didn’t hurt the Suns’ ability to stage a comeback and climb to within one game in the loss column of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff seed.
“An ugly win is still a good win, in my opinion,” Vince Carter said. “I think we persevered and were able to find a way to get back in the game, give us a chance in the last five minutes of the game.”
Hill reaches another milestone
Grant Hill’s career has been full of ups and downs but his time in Phoenix has been spent not only staying on the court but climbing the historical ladder as well.
Friday night Hill hit a 17-foot jump shot to become the 15th active player in the NBA to reach 16,000 career points. While a nice achievement for the veteran, Hill said he sometimes thinks of what could have been.
“It feels good, especially just to be able to continue to play after a lot of injuries and still be out there,” he said. “Sometimes I get depressed, I think man, I could have had more, but I’ll take the 16. Don’t be greedy.”