Playoffs 2010 Round 1 Game 2 Recap

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Suns Two Good for Blazers
By Mike Tulumello, for

PHOENIX ( exclusive) -- One defensive switch and a heavy dose of energy.

That was what the Suns needed, and that's what they got Tuesday night in blowing out the visiting Trail Blazers 119-90 Tuesday night to even their first-round playoff series 1-1.

In addition, Nicolas Batum, a key Blazers role player, suffered a shoulder injury. His status is unknown, though coach Nate McMillan feared the injury may be significant.

An MRI is set for Wednesday.

The teams play Games 3 and 4 on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon in Portland.

"We were the aggressors...and we did a good job on Andre Miller," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "We ran and got easy shots. We didn't give them a chance to get their defense established. I think they're as good as any team in the league if you let them get set in a halfcourt defense."

McMillan lamented, "We needed to match their sense of urgency. We never did. They imposed their will from the start."

The Suns, burned by Miller in Game 1 on Sunday, gave Grant Hill the lead defensive assignment on Miller instead of Jason Richardson.

Not only did Miller find the going tougher, Richardson seemed energized at the other end.

He fired in 29 points on 11-for-16 shooting, including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers, in just 30 minutes.

He had 20 points and five rebounds in the first half, propelling the Suns to a 63-49 lead.

Hill, in addition to playing splendid defense, hit 10-for-11 shots and scored 20.

"I'm just an old fart trying to keep up with the young guys," Hill joked.

More seriously, guarding Miller is difficult because "He's constantly probing and attacking," Hill said.

Miller's mindset is, "Why shoot from 15 [feet] when you can shoot from 10? Why shoot from 10 when you can shoot from five?

"He's challenging to defend."

"I don't know how Grant guarded him," Richardson said. "I couldn't do it. It's a tough coverage on him because he has the ball in his hands all the time, and he's coming off pick-and-rolls. He's the leader on that team right now with Brandon Roy out."

Gentry said Hill doesn't get credit for his defensive work, pointing out the 37-year-old forward has guarded everyone from LeBron James to Kobe Bryant to Tony Parker.

"I can ask him to guard anybody, and I know he'll give 110 percent," Gentry said.

Outside of that, the Suns didn't make many changes after their surprising Game 1 loss (they were the only higher-seeded team of eight to lose Game 1).

Afterward, Gentry said, "I asked our guys, 'What adjustments did we make?' They said, 'We played harder and were more focused.'"

Amar'e Stoudemire added 18 points, seven boards, three assists and just two fouls.

"They're clogging the lanes up on me and leaving the shooters open," Stoudemire said. "Tonight, they did a great job of knocking down open shots."

Steve Nash had 13 points, 16 assists and just one turnover.

The Trail Blazers were led by Martell Webster's 16 points, some of them in garbage time. Nobody else score more than 12.

Miller, as he did in Game 1, drove inside and tried to draw fouls. But more often than not, Miller got beat up falling to the floor while not getting many whistles.

On the offensive end, the Suns imposed their desire for a quicker tempo, and the Blazers didn't do enough to resist.

Midway through the third quarter, the Suns cracked it wide open.

Richardson bombed home a 3-pointer and a 20-footer. Moments later, Hill drew a charge from Jerryd Bayless, then Richardson scored on a down-the-middle layup in the Suns' crisp halfcourt offense.

With 6:00 left in the third quarter, the Suns had a 78-58 lead.

The margin reached 28 points (94-66) late in the third quarter after Nash and Channing Frye hit 3-pointers.

The Suns reached the 100-point mark (their total in Game 1) early in the final quarter. By then, their starting five had retired to the bench to watch the rout play out.

The lead reached 29 three times, the final one on Leandro Barbosa's layup with 40 seconds left, the game's final score.

"They took us out of our offense," McMillan said, "They denied Miller the ball" and forced Rudy Fernandez (who had a quiet game with five points and two assists).

This shouldn't have affected the Blazers as much as it did, McMillan said.

"Rudy can start the offense."

The Suns won easily despite not getting much from their normally reliable reserves. The Suns' bench shot just 13-for-37, including 3-for-12 on 3-pointers.

The Suns, though they averaged an NBA-best 110 points, hadn't scored more than 102 points against the Blazers in four previous games this season.

The Suns also won their ninth straight following a loss including the regular season. They haven't lost consecutive games since Jan. 25-26.


Player of the Game

Jason Richardson

"II thought we did a good job of pushing the tempo of the game."
- Alvin Gentry
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