With Game 5 defeat, Blazers' season on the brink

The Portland Trail Blazers’ resilient, inspiring season is one loss away from being over.

After fighting back to even an up-and-down playoff matchup against the Phoenix Suns, the Blazers lost serious ground Monday night.

Portland was again blown out by Phoenix, 107-88, during Game 5 of a Western Conference first-round series at the US Airways Center.

With the victory, the Suns took a 3-2 series lead.

Phoenix also gained a serious advantage. While two games remain in the best-of-seven setting, the Suns only have to win one more contest. And if a Game 7 is necessary, Phoenix will hold
home-court advantage for the event.

Game 6 is scheduled Thursday at the Rose Garden in Portland.

“We’ve always got Game 7, which is nice to have home court,” said Suns guard Steve Nash, who scored 14 points and dished out 10 assists. “But you can’t really look at it like that. You’ve got to go up there to think that it’s a great opportunity to end the series. Anything can happen in the playoffs. You don’t want to take a chance on another game. So, we’ve got to go up there and
have a great attitude.”

Andre Miller scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Blazers, while LaMarcus Aldridge and Jerryd Bayless added 17 apiece.

Reserve center Channing Frye topped the Suns with 20 points, while Amare Stoudemire recorded 19 points.

Phoenix’s third victory of the series also marked its third offensive eruption. The run-and-gun Suns have defeated the Blazers by an average of 22 points during wins in Games 2, 3 and 5.

“We’re going to create open shots for each other,” Nash said. “When people take that away, we make them pay.”

It initially appeared Portland would turn the tables on Phoenix, though.

The Blazers connected on 9 of their first 10 field-goal attempts. And a rattled-in 3-pointer by Miller pushed Portland out to a 14-2 lead with 8 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Blazers looked almost perfect out of the gate, smoothly running their offense in a fast-paced, highly efficient style that mirrored Phoenix at its best Monday.

But early foul trouble for Marcus Camby and Brandon Roy slowed down Portland. A 1 for 13 shooting stretch by the Blazers followed. And the Suns roared back to pull within 28-27 heading into the second quarter.

Phoenix then took its first lead of the game after Frye slammed home an offensive rebound, making it 31-30 Suns.

Trailing by as many as 14 midway through the first quarter, the Suns rallied to take a 57-47 advantage into halftime.

A 13-4 run then made it 82-65 Phoenix with 1:10 left in the third quarter.

The Suns shot 90.6 percent (29 of 32) from the free-throw line, and Phoenix outrebounded the Blazers 40-29.

After being blown out by Phoenix in Games 2-3, Portland used a magical Game 4 home victory Saturday — highlighted by the return of Brandon Roy — to even the series.

Roy played in just his second game of the series Monday — the three-time All-Star missed Games 1-3 while recovering from knee surgery.

But Roy’s follow up was not as smooth as his dramatic Game 4 entrance. Despite coming off the bench, Roy picked up his third foul with 9:53 left in the first half. And he struggled throughout the contest, finishing with just five points on 2-of-7 shooting in 19 minutes of action.

Camby dislocated his left pinky finger during the second period, but did return to the game. … The Blazers did not attempt a free throw until the 6:18 mark in the second quarter. … Available tickets for Game 6 sold out in about 15 minutes Monday afternoon. … Game time for Game 6 will either be 6 or 7:30 p.m., depending on the outcome of tonight’s NBA playoff games. … Game 7 is scheduled Saturday at a time to be determined in Phoenix.

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