Newsroom Notes: Offense Stalls as Suns Fall to Blazers in Game 4

Stoudemire scored 26, but Aldridge and the Blazers captured Game 4.
(Otto Greule Jr./NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: April 24, 2010

Portland’s Brandon Roy may have returned from injury to give his team an emotional boost in Game 4, but the story of the game was the Suns’ inability to push the action. One could tell intuitively from watching, but all the stats even pointed to a team that was outhustled.

“For us, the difference in the game was that we didn’t play with the energy that we really needed to, to beat this team, and if you don’t, you struggle against them,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “We only ended up with 37 points in the second half. "You won’t be able to beat this team doing that.”

Like in Game 1, the Suns allowed Portland to dictate the tempo, which was best illustrated by the Blazers outscoring them 16-4 on fast-break points. In addition, the Suns were outrebounded 45-39, including 12-7 on the offensive boards.

The ability to corral those offensive rebounds led to the Blazers outscoring Phoenix 17-5 in second-chance points, a great hustle-stat indicator.

“We just didn’t run like we usually do and I think we need to do a better job on the boards, myself included,” Suns center Channing Frye said. “We have to make sure we get those boards and get out running.”

When the Suns allow opposing teams to be more aggressive, they usually pay the price. The Blazers went to the line seven more times Saturday.

In addition, the Suns only forced seven turnovers, while committing 12 of their own.

“We can’t turn the ball over against this team,” Gentry said. (In the fourth quarter) I think we had three-straight turnovers on possessions. At the end of the day we basically played at their pace, and if we do that, we get ourselves in trouble.”

Hill noted that Portland switched on the screen-and-rolls, much like they did in Game 1, but that today’s loss wasn’t about any adjustments, but about coming out with the right mentality.

“We didn’t’ come out with the desperation that we needed,” Hill said. “They were desperate and they came out and played that way.”

The Suns' 87 points in Game 4 was the lowest amount they've totaled in a game all season.

Adridge Shakes Loose

After totaling 22, 11 and 17 points in the first three games, respectively, LaMarcus Aldridge recorded a playoff career-high with 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the floor Saturday. After being closely guarded the entire series, it seemed that Aldridge was able to get a lot of open looks in Game 4.

“It wasn’t so much the post-up plays as it was the face-up jumpshots that he made,” Gentry said. “With us trapping the screen-and-rolls he seemed to create a little separation today.”

The Blazers’ power forward also drilled 9-of-12 from the line and hauled down 11 rebounds.

“We can’t have him shooting 12 free throws,” Gentry added. “He’s not that kind of post-up player because usually he’s a jumpshooter over the top.”

Don’t expect Aldridge to have it as easy in Game 5.

“We have to do a better job of No. 1, defending him," Gentry said. "We got to do a better job of making him catch the ball a little bit out of the comfort zone.”

The key, according to former teammate Channing Frye, is to not allow Aldridge to get into an offensive rhythm early.

“He got hot early and they just kept feeding him and feeding him,” Frye noted. “They were hitting us instead of us hitting them. They dictated where we were going and we need to dictate them on defense.”

J-Rich's Legendary Night

Everyone knows that Jason Richardson was good in Game 3. But how good?

Thanks to Suns Basketball Communications’ stat guru Vince Kozar, we were able to put that offensive display into historical context. It was a night that only a few NBA legends have had.

His 42-point, eight-rebound and three-steal performance was the first of it’s kind since Kobe Bryant did so against the Suns in May of 2006. It was the first time a Suns player posted numbers like that in the playoffs since Charles Barkley did so against Golden State in 1994.

In fact, only eight players in total have tallied that kind of output since 1991. Besides J-Rich, Bryant and Barkley, just Dirk Nowitzki, Tracy McGrady, Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan have also recorded those kind of numbers (points, rebounds and steals) in a playoff game.

It was the most points by a Suns player in the postseaon since Rex Chapman erupted for 42 points in 1997. His 8-of-12 from shooting downtown and 14 three-pointers in the series’ first three games was just one shy of the Blazers’ total (15) during that span.

Richardson is currently the Suns leading scorer in the series at 25 points a night.

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