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Fran Blinebury

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Steve Nash and the Suns have the Blazers on the ropes.
Christian Petersen/Getty Image

'Confident' Suns have the Blazers on the ropes


Posted Apr 27 2010 3:34AM

PHOENIX -- You get the feeling that if the Suns jumped from an airplane without a parachute, they'd expect to land smack in the middle of somebody's backyard pool. And maybe have Jessica Simpson waiting there to hand them a cold drink.

They're the guys who put the Lamborghini and the yacht on the credit card, then go out to buy the lottery ticket.

"We're confident," said Grant Hill.

Confident enough to practically fall out of bed in the biggest game of their season and somehow still not wind up sprawled out on the floor.

"We're very confident," said Jared Dudley.

The only way the Trail Blazers might have hit the Suns harder at the start of Game 5 was if Tiger Woods teed them up on a par 5 and pulled out that large Nike driver.

Four minutes into the game, the Blazers had taken eight shots and made every single one. Six minutes into the game, the Blazers had scored on 10 consecutive possessions.

"We take the first timeout and get a stat sheet and it says (they have) 100 percent shooting. What can you say?"

If you're the Suns, you say: What, me worry?

They've never seen a whole they think is too deep to climb out from? They've never seen a lead the figure they can't erase.

"You have to know who you are and be true to who you are," said Dudley. "Who we are is a team that can put a lot of points on the board."

It's part offensive talent, part faith and part dogged determination to stick with the up-tempo philosophy that has made them the most entertaining bunch in the NBA and carried them so far in this season when they keep surprising and exceeding expectations.

"It wasn't what we desired coming out of the gates," said Steve Nash. "But I think they made some shots -- I think they made every shot -- and you know it's never going to be like that and we didn't quite have a rhythm yet. I personally wasn't really concerned.

"They were making everything, so it made it feel like we were running uphill. But I felt that we had to think of this thing as long-term and think of it as the stock market. We're not day traders. We want to be very conservative and long-term in our investment in transition. You've got to stick with it from start to finish and can't think: 'Oh, this isn't working. We've got to walk the ball up and try to get a good shot.' Let's keep the tempo going to our pace and I think that's how we got it back to a point at the end of the quarter."

Indeed, they had, wiping out Portland's 23-9 early advantage and turning it into a landslide 107-88 win in the other direction.

It is certainly a curious series, the only one in the Western Conference where the higher seed is actually leading at this point. The Suns three wins have all been blowouts, coming by an average margin of 22.3 points. They have, in fact, matched LeBron James and the revered Cavaliers as the only clubs with three double-digit wins so far in the playoffs.

What's more, this was the 12th time this season that the Suns had rallied from double-digits for a comeback win and it keeps reinforcing the mantra that it's what the Suns themselves do that matters. They want to act, no react. They want to play their own high-octane, scrambling transition game and get you sucked into the jet-wash.

"I thought we fell into their tempo," admitted Blazers coach Nate McMillan.

It is so easy to succumb to the temptation to play with the Suns and so easy to get burned.

This one was about reserves Channing Frye (20 points, eight rebounds) and Dudley (19 points, 5-for-9 on 3-pointers) regaining their absent offense. It was about the Phoenix bench outscoring the Portland bench 55-23. It was about the Suns recommitting themselves to the backboards for a 41-29 command.

But mostly this one -- and in truth all of them -- is about the Suns commitment to a style and a philosophy that doesn't allow them to worry about the wall that someone has erected in front of them, only see it as an opportunity to jump higher.

"NBA games are such long games," said Gentry. "Our guys were great. They didn't panic at all."

Ho-hum, they barely flinched when the Blazers landed their early haymaker.

"We didn't think they were going to blow us out," Hill said. "It was the way they were beating us. The hit shots by the people we wanted to take shots. If they beat us, then we shake their hand and move on.

"But you can't just scrap everything that's been working after three minutes, though I'm sure people thought about that. You don't scrap it. Stick to it and be confident it will work and it did.

"Offensively we hadn't quite found our rhythm...It's the playoffs. It's the NBA. It seems like you've seen it all in this series and you saw a little bit more out there at the beginning of the game."

You saw the unflappable Suns as the bombs fell and the bullets whizzed by, wearing tuxedos and sipping martinis. Stirred, not shaken.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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