Postgame quotes and notes: Blazers 105, Suns 100

Official postgame quotes and notes following the Portland Trail Blazers’ 105-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of a first round Western Conference playoff series at US Airways Center in Phoenix.

(On game)
“I was just trying to stay aggressive and play solid transition defense. I was just trying to get the ball up court before they could set their defense and force some mismatches.

(On winning game one)
“It’s big, especially how they’ve played the second half of the season going into the playoffs. They have probably been the hottest team in the league. That right there says a lot about our effort tonight.”

(On fourth quarter)
We talked about forcing the issue a little bit and not relying on jump shots. We tried to contain them as far as keeping them out of the paint and forcing them to take threes. And on the other end we tried to not fall into that trap of taking jump shots and letting them start running.”

(On the game)
“I thought we did a good job the second half of having better control of transition and executing our offense. The first quarter we lost (Channing) Frye early and he was able to get some threes. We started to do a better job of controlling the ball – if we can’t control the ball, (Steve) Nash is so good, they do a great job of spacing and he knows where everybody is at – that he will find those guys. Frye got loose a couple of times and we got caught in a scramble a few times and that led to three-point opportunities. They missed some early, but they got some good looks. I thought we did a better job of executing our offense, we started to settle for jump shots in the second half and in the fourth quarter we started to go to the basket and were able to get to the free throw line and I thought that was the difference in the game.”

(On the importance of winning Game 1)
“We talked to the guys about getting the first game and it’s an important game for both teams to try and get. We know tonight, after playing this game, we feel like we can play better. We got this first one, but we didn’t come here just to get one – we came here to get the first one, we got that game and now we want to focus on getting the game on Tuesday night. We know this is a tough team, they can shoot that basketball and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

(On adjusting to the loss of Brandon Roy)
“With Brandon (Roy) being out, we’ve adjusted our rotation and this is what these guys have done all season. When their opportunities come – they’ve taken advantage of it. Even though we started Rudy (Fernandez), we knew we needed everybody to play and play well. I thought our bench, Martell (Webster), (Juwan) Howard and (Jerryd) Bayless gave us something. Their second unit outscored us in the second quarter, but Bayless had a pretty good rhythm and was getting to the basket and getting to the free throw line – which is something we needed.”

(On whether they will consider starting Bayless in Game 2)
“No, we’ll stay with our same rotation.”

(On Tonight’s Game)
“It definitely felt good, but we realize it’s only one game and we’d like to continue to keep it happening. Everybody is in the plan, with Nick hitting shots and Andre penetrating and getting the shots. I think we’re tough to beat. Hopefully we’ll continue to do that and hopefully we will.
I was just trying to attack. Obviously we were down Brandon so we don’t have another attacker other than Andre. That’s what I was trying to do. When Andre was in the game I was going after people and trying to make some shots and just trying to do a little bit of everything. It definitely felt good to play and hopefully we’ll continue to do it.”

(On Tonight’s Game)
“We wanted to come in and try to get this first game. We felt like we could come in and play well and give ourselves a chance and we ended up getting the game.”
(On Guarding Amar’e)
“We tried to front him. We’re trying to not give him easy looks, double team. We just try to make every look he got tough so he couldn’t get a rhythm going. That was our goal, we didn’t want to give them a big quarter. They try to come out in the first quarter and try to have 40 point quarters and things like that. We try to always keep them under control. I think they had 4 or 5 fast break points. We always try to get back in transition and it worked out for us tonight.”

(On the game)
“They did a great job of playing boxing and elbows – they did a phenomenal job defensively. They clogged up the lane there a little bit so it was kind of difficult to get into our offense.”

(On Portland’s defense)
“I think they came out with good intensity defensively. They really tried to double team us and be scrappy out there and kind of clog the lanes up and make us beat them from the outside. Tonight was a night we didn’t particularly shoot the ball very well.”

(On what they can do in Game 2 to help the offense)
“We only had four fastbreak points, so we’ve got to up the tempo there a little bit and get out there and run lanes, set screen and rolls and create the tempo out there. If we get that going and loosen up there defense a little bit, we’ll get better looks.”

(Opening statement)
“They outplayed us – there’s no getting around it. They made the plays they had to and came up with the big plays at the end and that’s how they won the game. I just thought they did a good job – even though they only had 10 offensive rebounds – they did a good job on the boards. They also did a good job of running their offense. (Jerryd) Bayless and obviously Andre Miller hurt us. Isolation, driving to the basket and we’ve got to do a better job in those areas right there. We’ve got to do a better job defensively, we never really got a flow going – we did a little bit in the third quarter, but we’ve got to find a way move the basketball and get them moving. They did a good job of taking away lane drives and their whole deal is you’ve got to beat them over the top; so much of the credit goes to them. There are some areas we have to make adjustments and do a better job.”

(On whether the offensive problems were related to Portland’s defense or a struggling offense)
“I think it was a combination of both, but I don’t want to take anything away from them because they did a great job defensively. We have to step up and make shots, but we have to make shots because we’re in motion. I thought we didn’t push the ball on them or impose our will on them as much as we have to. We had four fastbreak points and obviously that’s an area that we have to get better in as far as pushing the basketball. I just think our spacing broke down a little bit, we’ve got to get Amar’e in a position where he has touches where he can do things with them and he’s got to finish plays. He’s playing against Marcus Camby, who has won defensive player of the year and he’s a long guy and does an excellent job of blocking shots and doing some things, so Amar’e is going to have to step it up and find ways to score for us and we’ve got to get the ball to him in a good location. It’s one game and now we’ve got to find a way somewhere in this series – we’ve got to take care of business Tuesday and go to Portland and win one of those games.”

(On Andre Miller)
“He did a fantastic job. He is one of those guys that is very comfortable with the basketball in his hands as far as backing down and making plays. He’s not a great outside shooter, he made a three-pointer against us – that was a big three-pointer – but for the most part he controls the game with his isolation. We’ve got to do a better job of guarding him and we’ve got to do a better job of coming down on him like we’re supposed to. We had some breakdowns in that area right there and we’ve just got to get better at that.”

(On the game)
“We just didn’t play well enough tonight, we got ourselves in some good positions, but we couldn’t finish it, we couldn’t really get going and make a bunch of shots. I thought our defense was fine, for the most part, I thought we needed to make a little more commitment sometimes to penetration and post-ups with our help side, but even long stretches where our defense was fine, our offense wasn’t great and overall we just didn’t play well enough. We think we’ll play better than that most nights, so we’ve got to look forward to Game 2 and play a little better and we think we can get a win if we play a little better.”

(On Portland’s offense in the paint)
“That was important – they got on a little run there. We weren’t committing so much from the weakside on penetration or post-ups like we need to and they got inside. I think when they got inside they were able to make a high percentage of tough shots. We’ve just got to play better – we’ve got to do a better job on that and offensively. I thought we were a shade of ourselves. We’ve got a lot of improving to do if we want to win the series.”

(On the offense)
“We just didn’t make as many shots as we normally do. We had a lot of good looks we didn’t knock down and we weren’t really sharp. They’re going to make it look like there the floors not spaced because they’ll clog it up and use their length and we’ve just got to make them pay.”

(On the loss)
“It’s a long series, it’s going to be a grind-it-out series the way they play and you’ve got to make adjustments – it’s not like the NCAA tournament where it’s one game and you go home. You’ve got to get better; you’ve got watch film tomorrow and make adjustments. Andre Miller was picking us apart and I think they had a really good game – they executed their game plan.”

(On missing chances)
“It was big. I tried to get a steal on Aldridge, he taps it back in and got the ball to Andre Miller and he hits a three. We had chances, overall, I think it was a lot of our second unit’s first (playoff) game and now the jitters are out and we can get back to business.”

Score   Record      High Points     High Rebounds           High Assists

Portland 105 1-0 A. Miller (31) M. Camby (17) A. Miller (8)
Phoenix 100 0-1 S. Nash (25) J. Richardson (10) S. Nash (9)

•   The Suns fell to 26-27 (.491) all-time in Game 1 of a playoff series.  To date, Phoenix has won six of the 26 postseason series in which it has dropped Game 1 (6-20, .231).  In the NBA since 1946-47, the team that has won Game 1 in a best-of-seven playoff series has won 309 of the 393 series (.786).

•   The Suns, who this season make their 29th playoff appearance, fell to 21-8 (.724) all-time in postseason openers (first game of a playoff season) and fell to 6-2 (.750) in their last eight such contests dating back to the 2000 playoffs, including two-straight losses (2008 at San Antonio).

•   The Suns fell to 18-8 (.692) all-time in Game 1s played in Phoenix.

•   Portland snapped a five-game losing streak in Game 1s.  The Blazers won the first game of a playoff series for the first time since May 7, 2000 in a semifinal series against the Utah Jazz.

•   Portland snapped an 18-game losing streak in Game 1s on the road.  The Blazers won the opening game of a series away from home for the first time since April 20, 1983.

•   The Blazers, who have split six postseason series all-time against the Suns, took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.  In each of the six previous playoff meetings between these two teams, the Game 1 winner has won the series.

•   The Blazers became the first road team to win in this weekend’s opening round of the 2010 playoffs.

•   The Blazers snapped the Suns’ eight-game home win streak dating back to the regular season and handed Phoenix its first home loss since March 12 vs. LA Lakers, 37 days ago.  During the home streak, the Suns averaged 119.8 points (958) and tallied 110 or more points in seven of the eight games, but tonight were limited to 100 points.

•   Portland improved to 9-9 (.500) without leading scorer BRANDON ROY in the regular season and playoffs in 2009-10.  Two of those nine wins have come against the Suns (Feb. 10).

•   Portland won for the ninth time in their last 12 games including the regular season.


SUNS vs. BLAZERS in 09-10
(including tonight)

99.0 (396)
.438 (146/333)
.367 (36/98)

With the Suns leading 87-85 with 4:57 remaining in the game, the Blazers outscored Phoenix 14-5 over the next 3:28 to take a 99-92 lead with 1:29 to go. Portland hit six three-pointers in tonight’s game but two pivotal ones came in that short stretch, one each by ANDRE MILLER and NICOLAS BATUM.

• FREE-THROW SHOOTING: Phoenix averaged 25.8 free-throw attempts during the regular season, including 29.1 following the All-Star break. The Suns were led by AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE, who attempted 9.2 per game following the break, fourth-most in the NBA. The Suns attempted just 16 free-throws tonight, EIGHT of which came in the final quarter. SEVEN of Stoudemire’s EIGHT attempts came in the fourth quarter.

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