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Harrowing night for Blazers vs. Phoenix

Suns guards, center Chandler give Blazers all they can handle

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: October 31, 2015, 10:58pm
8 Photos
Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight (3) hits a three-point shot over Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. The Suns won the game 101-90.
Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight (3) hits a three-point shot over Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. The Suns won the game 101-90. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes) Photo Gallery

PORTLAND — On Halloween night, the Portland Trail Blazers were haunted by creatures big and small.

The Blazers lost on Saturday to the Phoenix Suns for the second straight night, 101-90 at the Moda Center.

Phoenix’s guard tandem of Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe frustrated the Blazers on both ends, combining for 60 points between them.

“They brought a challenge for us, something that we hadn’t seen with two guards coming off of pick and rolls,” Blazers guard Damian Lillard who led the team with 23 points and eight assists said. “We have to do a better job.”

Bledsoe also had six assists, four steals and two blocks.

Phoenix center Tyson Chandler terrorized the Blazers in more sinister ways. A double technical was issued to Chandler and Mason Plumlee after the two had a physical altercation with 5:55 left in the first quarter.

Plumlee fell to the ground trying to get a loose ball and while he was down there, Chandler shoved him. As Chandler tried to run back after, Plumlee grabbed him and the two players had to be separated by Portland’s director of security as well as players.

After that Chandler caught a lob pass in transition and slammed it down, drawing boos from crowd. Chandler motioned to the crowd to bring it on.

Although the Blazers held a brief four-point lead after that, it seemed that the game was always in Phoenix’s control.

Chandler had a game-high 11 rebounds and controlled the area around the basket on both ends.

“When he’s out there, he makes a world of difference,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said of Chandler.

After the skirmish, the Suns outscored the Blazers 12-5 to end the quarter.

“Sometimes that ends up being a wake up call for one team or another, I thought we just battled hard,” Hornacek said.

“We came in, we struck first, we controlled the glass,” Chandler said.

Plumlee didn’t think it was much.

“It wasn’t anything crazy,” he said.

Bledsoe and Knight zoomed around Chandler screens all night, including the fourth quarter when they combined to score 19 of Phoenix’s 27 fourth quarter points.

Portland’s duo of Lillard and McCollum could not answer, scoring only nine.

On the night of the wandering dead, Meyers Leonard’s outside shot showed no signs of life.

Counted on to space the court for the Blazers offensively with his 3-point shooting, Leonard has made just two of his 13 3-point attempts after shooting 42 percent from deep last season.

Leonard was benched for match-up reasons to start the second half in favor of Moe Harkless, sliding Al-Farouq Aminu to power forward.

“I liked Farouq guarding Markieff Morris and I just thought we needed a spark,” head coach Terry Stotts said.

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Leonard made two jumpers in consecutive possessions midway through the fourth quarter but was clearly frustrated after the game.

“It’s strange to me over a 3 game period that I haven’t made any shots,” Leonard said. “I have to continue to play hard and know I can do other things. I know I can shoot the ball.”

Leonard is dealing with numbness on the outside of his left hand after hitting a nerve in his elbow in their opening night win on Wednesday. He said that the hand is “different” but is not using it as an excuse.

“It’s not really much, it’s your guide hand anyway,” Leonard said. “As I am recalling plays throughout the game, I don’t think they’re very in rhythm.”

Leonard said he will watch every play of the last three games on the team’s flight to Minneapolis Sunday to figure out ways to improve.

Portland also struggled to take care of the ball for the second straight game, with 16 turnovers which led to 20 Phoenix points.

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Columbian Trail Blazers Writer