Blazers Host New-Look Suns After Opening-Night Blowout Victory

by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers continue an early-season stretch of playing 10 of 11 games at home by hosting the Phoenix Suns Saturday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The two teams have already met once this season, with the Trail Blazers beating the Suns 124-76, the worst loss in Phoenix franchise history. The 48-point margin of victory was also the largest in a season-opening game in NBA history.

“That was a great way to start the season,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts of the opening night victory. “I was really pleased with our defense thorough out the night. Offense got off to a slow start but picked up. The obvious statement is we played really well.”

Though it didn’t turn out all that well for Earl Watson, who was sacked as head coach after the Suns lost their first three games by an average of 30.7 points. Soon after, starting guard Eric Bledsoe was dismissed from the team after expressing publicly that he was no longer interested in playing for the Suns.

But under interim head coach Jay Triano, who served as an assistant coach to Stotts during his first three season in Portland, the Suns have looked much improved, winning their last two games versus the Kings and Jazz.

“They’re already a different team,” said Stotts of the Suns. “The last two games they’re playing hard, they’re playing together, they’re moving the ball, there’s good spacing, there’s ball movement, they’re getting contributions from different people. Whatever was happening internally, for whatever reason, they’re a different team now.”

As for the Trail Blazers, they enter Saturday night’s game off a heartbreaking loss to the Clippers Thursday night at the Moda Center. Portland had a two-point lead with under five seconds to play despite not playing all that well, but that was enough for LA forward Blake Griffin to hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning three-pointer to hand the Trail Blazers their second loss of the season.

“Very disappointing loss,” said Stotts. “Griffin hit a great shot at the end. A tough way to lose a game. I was disappointed with our defense in the first half. I liked the way came back and competed and put ourselves in a position to win, but losses like this are tough.”

While 3-2, Portland’s losses have come by a combined four points.

Saturday night’s game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Scott Lynn and Michael Holton will have the radio call on 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.