Postgame Central: Suns @ Blazers, 10/26/2010
18The Suns were out-rebounded by 18 in the season opener including a 18-7 deficit on the offensive boards.
Blazers Overtake Suns in 4th
By ANNE M. PETERSON
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Nicolas Batum scored 19 points, making three 3-pointers down the stretch, and had 11 rebounds to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 106-92 season-opening victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
Brandon Roy scored 24 points for the Blazers, who fell to the Suns in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Steve Nash had 26 points for the Suns, who trailed most of the first half before going ahead in the third quarter. Nash's turnaround jumper pushed the lead to 76-71.
Portland tied it at 86 on rookie Armon Johnson's jumper with 8:15 to go. After Andre Miller's 19-foot jumper, Batum hit a 3-pointer and a pull-up jumper to make it 97-91 with 3:14 left.
Batum added two more 3-pointers, including his final one with 22.9 seconds left.
The Suns and Nash no longer have power forward Amare Stoudemire, who joined the New York Knicks as a free agent in the offseason.
Stoudemire averaged 23.3 points, partnering with Nash on the pick-and-roll that was the Suns' signature. And it was clear the Suns are still adjusting.
``You'll see a lot of things in the next month from us until we get things figured out,'' coach Alvin Gentry said before the game.
The Blazers led by as many as seven points in the first half, but the Suns closed the gap late to make it 50-46 at the break. Jason Richardson had 13 first-half points for Phoenix while Roy had 13 for Portland.
Richardson's fast-break layup put the Suns up 58-57 in the third quarter, but Wesley Matthews put Portland back in front with a layup and a free throw, and Rudy Fernandez added a 3-pointer to make it 67-62.
The Suns stormed back and Richardson's 3-pointer made it 70-69. Phoenix led by as many as six points until Johnson tied it.
Richardson finished with 22 points.
While they lost Stoudemire, Phoenix acquired forwards Hakim Warrick, Hedo Turkoglu, and Josh Childress in the offseason. The team also re-signed Channing Frye.
Turkoglu, who struggled last season with Toronto, was booed loudly by the Rose Garden fans. The 10-year veteran from Turkey was wooed by Portland and even made a well-publicized visit to the city before abruptly going to the Raptors.
Turkoglu, expected to help the Suns adjust without Stoudemire, collected a pair of quick fouls in the first quarter before Gentry sat him. He finished with six points.
Childress, who broke the tip of his right index finger in the preseason, nevertheless made his debut with the Suns.
The Blazers made several roster moves just before the opener, including the addition of free-agent center Fabricio Oberto on Monday.
Oberto, who played last season for Washington, had not been expected to play because he didn't know his new team, but he logged about three minutes in the first half.
Oberto was brought in to help the Blazers in the middle while centers Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden continue to rehab from knee surgeries last season.
Przybilla could return by mid-November, but there was no timetable for Oden, the former No. 1 draft pick.
The Blazers have started Marcus Camby at center since last season, but were hurt when his expected backup, Jeff Pendergraph, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason.
Pendergraph was waived on Monday to make room for Oberto. The Blazers also traded guard Jerryd Bayless to New Orleans in exchange for a future conditional first-round draft pick.
Injuries hurt the Blazers last season. Even though they won 50 games, Portland players missed the second-most games in the league, behind Golden State.
Notes: The Blazers visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, the first of a season-opening, four-game road trip. While coach Nate McMillan notes it was a bit ``strange'' to start a road trip on the back end of a back-to-back, he shrugged: ``You've got to play 82 and you've got to play the schedule.''