Crucial Back-To-Back Begins In Phoenix

by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers, currently in ninth-place in the Western Conference, begin a back-to-back with potential playoff implications Friday night with a game versus the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

SERIES NOTES

ALL TIME: Suns lead, 121-107
IN PORTLAND: Trail Blazers lead, 71-44
AT THE SUNS: Suns lead, 77-36
LAST PORTLAND WIN: 111-110, 12/16/19 (Phoenix)
LAST SUNS WIN: 122-116, 12/30/19 (Portland)
CURRENT WIN STREAK: One (Phoenix)

GAME NOTES

• Friday's game will be the third of four matchups between the Trail Blazers and Suns during the 2019-20 season. The season series is tied, 1-1.

• The Suns and Trail Blazers are both top-four free-throw shooting teams, at first and fourth respectively. Phoenix sits atop the league shooting 82.2% from the line, while Portland is at 80.2% for the season.

LAST MEETING: The Suns took down the Trail Blazers at Moda Center on Dec. 30, 122-116. Damian Lillard paced Portland with 33 points (10- 20 FG, 5-12 3-PT, 8-12 FT), five rebounds, seven assists and one steal, while Devin Booker led Phoenix with 33 points (9-19 FG, 15-15 FT), six rebounds and seven assists.

• Damian Lillard has scored at least 20 points in 14 of his last 16 games against the Suns, including six games with at least 30 points. He is averaging 30.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists against the Suns this season.

• CJ McCollum scored 25 points (11-21 FG, 1-4 3-PT, 2-2 FT) to go with two rebounds, six assists and one steal against the Suns on Dec. 30. McCollum has finished with at least 20 points in each of his last 12 games against the Suns. He has averaged 25.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists over those 12 games.

• Hassan Whiteside had 16 points (7-13 FG, 2-2 FT) to go with 22 rebounds and three blocks in Portland's last meeting with Phoenix. Whiteside has recorded a double-double in each of his last six games opposite the Suns.

• Ricky Rubio is averaging 14.0 points (40.7% FG, 33.3% 3-PT, 100% FT), 8.0 rebounds and 13.5 assists against the Trail Blazers this season, finishing with a double-double in both games.

• Mikal Bridges recorded 13 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 31 minutes off the bench against Portland on Dec. 30. He is averaging 10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.50 steals against the Trail Blazers this season.

CONNECTION: Suns head coach Monty Williams was an assistant coach with the Trail Blazers for five seasons from 2005-10.

CONNECTION: Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little and Phoenix forward Cameron Johnson were teammates at North Carolina during the 2018-19 season.

INJURY NOTES

Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Friday’s game.

As for the Suns, Deandre Ayton (left ankle sprain) is doubtful while Cameron Johnson (illness), Frank Kaminsky (right patella stress fracture), Kelly Oubre Jr. (Right knee injury), Jalen Lecque (G League), Jared Harper (Two-way) and Tariq Owens (Two-way) are out.

BROADCAST NOTES

Friday's game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam calling the action. Travis Demers and Michael Holton will have the call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations on the Deschutes Brewery Trail Blazers Radio Network.

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