THE FACTS: Shannon Brown and Markieff Morris, announced in the starting lineup an hour before tip-off, combined for 29 points and Marcin Gortat added a season-high 22 points as the Phoenix Suns beat the Portland Trail Blazers 114-87 Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
Brown scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers as the Suns (5-7) rallied from a four-point deficit in the game's first three minutes, and Morris added 19 on 9-for-13 shooting. Jermaine O'Neal scored a season-best 17 off the bench for Phoenix, Goran Dragic had 15 and P.J. Tucker finished with 11.
Damian Lillard scored a game-high 24 points for the Blazers. All five Portland starters scored in double digits, but the Blazers (5-6) received only 13 points from their bench -- all but six coming in the fourth quarter. Nicolas Batum, a game-time decision with a severe cold, and Wesley Matthews had 13 points each.
Portland rallied in the third quarter, cutting what had become a 21-point deficit to 11 on a long 3-pointer by Lillard with 5:38 to go. But the Suns regained control and Dragic twice converted a pair of free throws to give the Suns a 88-69 lead with 58.3 left in the period.
QUOTABLE: "Honestly, we can't get too excited with that game because Portland didn't play their best game."
-- Marcin Gortat
THE STAT: Phoenix shot a season-best 59.7 percent for the game, the first time the Suns have cracked the 50-percent barrier this season. The Suns also outscored the Blazers in the paint by a whopping 54-24 margin.
TURNING POINT: An hour before game time, Blazers coach Terry Stotts announced center J.J. Hickson was out with a sprained left shoulder. A few minutes later, Suns coach Alvin Gentry said Brown and Morris would start in place of Jared Dudley and Luis Scola. All three moves had a considerable impact on the game. Without Hickson, the Blazers were dominated in the paint. And with Brown and Morris in the lineup, Phoenix avoided what had become a near-automatic double-digit deficit for the first time in its past seven games and the second time in 12 games overall.
QUOTABLE II: "When a team shoots 60 percent all night long, we're not doing a lot of right defensively."
-- Terry Stotts
HOT: Gortat and O'Neal combined to shoot 18-for-23 from the floor and pull down 12 rebounds. O'Neal also blocked a pair of shots, recorded a steal and was hit with a technical to fill out his stat line.
NOT: Suns forward Michael Beasley remained a starter in name, but played reserved minutes. Beasley played just over nine minutes in the first and third quarters, sat out the entire second and fourth and finished the game with five points in 18:56 of playing time. Beasley was coming off four straight double-digit scoring games and played 37-plus minutes in Phoenix's past two games.
NOT II: LaMarcus Aldridge was held to 12 points on 5-for-15 shooting.
NOTABLE: Portland has not won in Phoenix since Dec. 10, 2010, and has dropped 12 of its last 14 at US Airways Center. ... Dragic has multiple steals in a career-best seven straight games. ... O'Neal, Scola and Gentry all were whistled for technicals. ... Phoenix's 32 third-quarter points were a season high.
ROOKIE WATCH: Meyers Leonard made his first career start with Hickson sidelined with a sprained left shoulder and scored 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
UP NEXT: For the Blazers, Friday vs. Timberwolves, Sunday @ Nets, Monday @ Pistons. For the Suns, Friday vs. Hornets, Sunday @ 76ers, Tuesday @ Cavaliers.