Burns: Role players step up in Game 5 win
The “what” is all that matters but the “who” and the “how” is the story of the night.
The “what” in this case is the final score, Suns 107-88 over Portland to take a three games to two lead over Portland in this playoff series. But it’s the “who” and the “how” that will catch everyone’s eye. It wasn’t Amar’e. Or Steve Nash. Or Jason Richardon; after a hot start he didn’t get anywhere near the 20 points that typically dictates a Suns win.
It was Channing Frye. The same Channing Frye who was 5-22 the last three games in this series. It was Jared Dudley. The same Jared Dudley who averaged 3 points per game in this series. Frye finished with 20 and a +/- rating of +32. Dudley was +36 after scoring 19 points. The Suns bench was clearly the difference in the game as was the rebounding total (41-29) and the free throw discrepancy (Suns made 29 while the Blazers only shot 24).
But once again I find myself questioning what is reality in this series. Is the reality that the Suns are the superior team? The one that has won three games in this series by an average of 22 points? Or is the reality, still, that Portland is a tough matchup and will give the Suns fits on Thursday night? Which Suns team shows up on Thursday in Portland? This scrappy bunch that got a little bit out of everybody tonight or the team that showed no fight/grit/heart on Saturday?
I think the team we saw Monday night, we’ll see again on Thursday.