Suns Strokes: Hot start paces Phoenix to impressive win following All-Star break

Feb 20, 2013, 4:42 AM | Updated: 6:01 am

Sure, you could read the box score and know who won, but we all know that won’t tell you everything that happened in a basketball game. So, we will give you Suns Strokes, providing you with the analysis, quotes and notes from the Suns’ 102-98 win over the Blazers on February 19.

The Good:

Despite a week layoff due to All-Star weekend, the Suns came out firing on all cylinders Tuesday night.

Phoenix began the game on a 12-0 run spanning almost five minutes of action, shot 73 percent over the first 12 minutes and scored a season-high 36 first quarter points.

Goran Dragic arguably had his best quarter of the season (five points and 10 assists) in the first period and Luis Scola (10 points) took full advantage of a sluggish LaMarcus Aldridge.

From there, Lindsey Hunter’s squad tried to simply hold on for a much-needed road victory.

The Bad:

Even on a night where almost everything seemed to go right for the purple and orange, the second half once again proved to be an issue.

Midway through the third quarter, the Trail Blazers managed to whittle the Suns’ 16-point lead down to eight.

The lead shrank to as little as two in the final few minutes of the contest, but fortunately for Phoenix, a complete comeback wasn’t in the cards for Portland.

He Said It:

“Guys played the right way,” said interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. “Guys shared the ball. That’s the kind of side effects we want from all the work we’ve put in.”

Noted:

• While Goran Dragic couldn’t keep up the torrid pace he had in the first quarter, the Slovenian guard still recorded a career-high 18 assists in the victory.

• Lindsey Hunter vowed that their would be a rotation change coming out of the break, and he didn’t disappoint. Wesley Johnson came off the bench in favor of Shannon Brown, and he quietly put together his best performance in a Suns uniform (14 points on 5-of-8 from the field in 29 minutes).

• The Suns did a lot of the little things right in Portland. Phoenix outrebounded the Blazers by 14 and shot 85 percent from the charity stripe.

• Tuesday’s win was the first for Phoenix in the City of Roses since March 2008.

Up Next:

The Suns (18-36) conclude their mini two-game West Coast road swing against Golden State Wednesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. MST.

Portland Trail Blazers guard Nolan Smith (4) is double-teamed by Phoenix Suns' Michael Beasley, left, and Kendall Marshall during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola, right, of Argentina, reaches in on Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker 917) goes to the basket against Portland Trail Blazers forward Victor Claver, of Spain, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic, right, of Slovenia, goes to the basket against Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum, of France, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic, right, of Slovenia, drives on Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) battles for a rebound with Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum, of France, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.(AP Photo/Don Ryan) Portland Trail Blazers guard Nolan Smith (4) is double-teamed by Phoenix Suns' Michael Beasley, left, and Kendall Marshall during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) Portland Trail Blazers center J.J. Hickson scores during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Hickson scored 25 points, pulled in 16 rebounds and had seven assists while Phoenix beat Portland 102-98.(AP Photo/Don Ryan) Phoenix Suns guard Jared Dudley, left, and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard scramble for a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Phoenix beat Portland 102-98.(AP Photo/Don Ryan) Portland Trail Blazers center J.J. Hickson reacts after he is called for a foul during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Phoenix beat Portland 102-98.(AP Photo/Don Ryan) Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic, left, from Slovenia, drives on Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Dragic scored 16 points and dished out 18 assists as the Suns beat the Trail Blazers 102-98.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

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