Blake, Randolph Push Trail Blazers Past Suns
Portland 111, Phoenix 101
PORTLAND, Ore., March 12 (Ticker) -- For one magical night, Steve Blake outplayed reigning NBA MVP Steve Nash down the stretch.
Blake matched a career high with 13 assists while Zach Randolph scored 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds off the bench to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 111-101 triumph over the Phoenix Suns.
Blake responded well to the expanded role and has been outstanding of late, averaging 14.3 points and 5.5 assists over his last six games.
"I'm just letting it go," Blake said. "I'm feeling confident, getting good shots and hoping they go in. As far as tonight, any time you get a chance to play against one of the best players in the NBA, it's an honor. It was fun and I enjoyed being there tonight."
The victory snapped a four-game skid for the Trail Blazers, who exacted a measure of revenge against a Suns squad which posted a 130-85 victory on Dec. 6, the last meeting between the teams.
Reserve Darius Miles scored 20 points and Blake added 18 for Portland, which ended the game with an 11-4 run.
"It was such a good win for us because this is one of the best teams in the NBA, and we haven't been playing so good," said Randolph, who was delegated to the bench because he was late for the morning shootaround. "We just kept playing with a total team effort. Miles was big for us and Blake played great as well. This is a growing process and with wins like this, it helps us grow."
"It feels really good, and I thought these guys outplayed Phoenix tonight," Portland coach Nate McMillan added. "We knew they played last night and the gameplan was to pressure. Defensively, we did the best we could do in keeping them in front of us. You have to make buckets when you get opportunities, and we did that tonight."
Shawn Marion drilled a jumper to draw Phoenix within 100-97 with three minutes remaining.
But Miles knocked down an 18-footer a minute later and Blake found Travis Outlaw for a layup to push the lead to 104-97 with 1:39 to go.
Nash made a jumper from the left elbow to cut the deficit to five with 1:25 left, but Miles answered with another jumper from the left wing and Blake converted a layup through traffic to give Portland a 108-99 cushion with 40 seconds remaining.
It was Miles' best effort since returning nearly a month ago from knee surgery, which cost him 34 games.
"When Darius is knocking down his shots, it opens up the whole game for us," Blake said. "They have to respect him, which opens it up for everyone else. It was really good to see tonight."
Marion had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Boris Diaw scored 20 points and Nash chipped in 13 and 16 assists for Phoenix, which had its six-game road winning streak snapped.
"I thought it came down to the fact that we really couldn't stop them," Nash said. "They made a ton of jump shots and they also got some good post play. (Randolph) was a handful for us. We play pretty much small forwards at center, and he kind of has his way with us. When the other guys are hitting their shots, it makes it tough on us."
In his last three games, Randolph has averaged 31 points and nine rebounds.
"I think his commitment to defense has gotten him into a rhythm offensively," McMillan said. "I have asked him for more of a defensive effort, and he has responded. Offensively, he knows we are going to go through him, but his defense has made him better on both ends."
"I'm really not doing much different other than staying low and moving my feet," added Randolph, who notched his 20th double-double. "I may be concentrating a little more, but mainly (I'm) just out there playing."
Portland fought back from an early 10-0 deficit with an 11-3 run and trailed, 23-22, heading into the second.
Randolph connected on a half-court shot at the buzzer to give Portland a 50-46 halftime lead.
"I just wanted to put a high arch on it," Randolph said. "I looked at the clock, put a couple more dribbles behind it to get my rhythm and let it go."