The Phoenix Suns surely must be glad they broke an eight-game losing streak prior to arriving in Portland.
They arrive in the Pacific Northwest with a halfway-clean slate in a place that has been gloomy for the Suns. Now, they will attempt to break an 11-game losing streak against the Trail Blazers when the teams square off on Monday night.
The Suns haven’t defeated Portland since posting a 118-115 overtime win on Nov. 2, 2016, in Phoenix. They came close at home on Dec. 16, but Damian Lillard converted a three-point play with 26 seconds left as the Trail Blazers pulled out a 111-110 win.
The Suns at least feel good about themselves entering this contest after squeezing out a 112-110 road win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.
Devin Booker’s play was instrumental in ending the eight-game slide that began after a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 9. Booker recorded 32 points and 10 assists for his third double-double of the season.
It was also the ninth 30-point effort of the campaign for Booker, who scored 34 points against the Golden State Warriors in Friday’s loss.
“He’s a complete player,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams told reporters after Saturday’s triumph.
“As many bodies and hands as he has on him, he still makes shots. He’s on the floor diving and he just willed us to victory tonight. Devin’s ability to score, but he also makes the right plays when they were blitzing him tonight. He was pretty good tonight.”
The Suns blew a 12-point lead after three quarters while losing 105-96 to the Warriors in a contest in which they committed a season-worst 27 turnovers. And they also lost three games by two or fewer points during the eight-game slide.
That wasn’t lost on Booker after Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes missed a last-second 3-pointer that could have sent Phoenix to a highly disappointing setback.
“It’s exciting. Obviously, we’ve been in a lot of emotional losses as of late,” Booker said. “Especially after (Friday) night, the way that we played, we wanted to come out here and get a win.
“I think we played well. I think we played hard. We took care of the ball much better than we did (Friday) night and we came out with a big win.”
Phoenix’s turnover count was 14 against the Kings.
The Trail Blazers are looking to end a three-game losing streak.
Portland was outclassed by the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 128-120 on Saturday night, prompting Lillard to air some postgame frustration.
“I don’t care who’s on the floor or what we’re dealing with as far as injuries or what we’re up against — I mean, we’re all professionals,” Lillard said. “People pay a lot of money to come see us play and we get paid a lot of money to show up and do our jobs and perform.”
Portland’s bench was outscored 72-39 in the beating, while Lillard scored 31 points to post his 11th 30-point effort of the season.
Big man Hassan Whiteside had a strong effort with 19 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots, but the Trail Blazers lost to the Lakers for the fourth time in five games after winning the previous 16 meetings.
“I was really pleased with the way we competed,” Portland coach Terry Stotts told reporters. “We were never really out of it until the end. They’re a really good team, especially when they’re at full strength. They have a lot of guys who can hurt you, so defensively it was a challenge with different matchups. I like the way we competed.”
Power forward Skal Labissiere started for the first time this season but injured his left knee just two-plus minutes into the game. Stotts said the club was hoping to get MRI results back soon.
“You can’t control that but health is definitely more important than anything we have going on,” forward Carmelo Anthony said afterward. “For him, it will be about getting healthy. For us, as teammates, just keep supporting him through that process.”
–Field Level Media