Suns beat Blazers to advance to round 2
PORTLAND, Ore. – Jason Richardson scored 28 points, including five 3-pointers, and the Phoenix Suns advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 99-90 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 6 on Thursday night.
The third-seeded Suns will face seventh-seeded San Antonio, which advanced by beating Dallas 97-97 on Thursday night. The opening game of the Western Conference semifinals is Monday night in Phoenix.
The Suns last went to the second round in 2007, when they got past the Los Angeles Lakers to open the playoffs before falling to the Spurs. In 2008, the Spurs got the best of Phoenix in the first round.
Grant Hill of the Suns advanced past the first round for the first time in his career.
The Suns went up 53-41 at halftime and led by as many as 16 points in the second half. The Blazers tied it at 76 midway through the fourth quarter, but could not pull ahead.
Martell Webster had 19 points for Portland, which failed to advance out of the first round for the second straight year.
The Blazers narrowed it to 74-71 with 10:44 left on Rudy Fernandez’s 3-pointer. Jared Dudley fouled Webster on a 3-point attempt, and Webster made two free throws to close within 74-73.
After Leandro Barbosa’s bank shot, Jerryd Bayless hit a long jumper that pulled Portland within one. Amare Stoudemire fouled LaMarcus Aldridge, who made one of two free throws to tie it at 76.
Stoudemire’s layup prevented Portland from taking the lead, and Goran Dragic added a rebound to put the Suns in front 80-76. Phoenix extended it on two consecutive layups and a 3-pointer from Richardson to make it 87-78 with 4:36 left.
Steve Nash sealed it with a 3-pointer that gave the Suns a 92-82 lead.
Stoudemire finished with 22 points for the Suns.
Brandon Roy had 14 points for the Blazers in his first start of the series. Portland’s three-time All-Star had arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee two days before the series against the Suns opened.
He was originally ruled out of the first round, but unexpectedly came back for Game 4, which the Blazers won 96-87 at the Rose Garden.
Roy had 10 points in that game, then got just five in Portland’s 107-88 Game 5 loss in Phoenix, but he was coming off the bench which he said made him uncomfortable.
The Suns, who found success in the series when they established a fast pace, went up 17-6 early with Richardson hitting three 3-pointers.
But Stoudemire collected two quick fouls and retreated to the bench. Richardson wound up with 14 points after the first quarter, but it was tempered by Nash’s five turnovers.
Portland narrowed it to 28-26 on Fernandez’s 3-pointer.
The Suns stretched it out to 41-32, but Roy finally came alive, hitting a running 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4:51 to go in the half. It was Roy’s first basket of the half.
Hill’s fast-break layup and free throw made it 53-40. Richardson finished the first half with 19 points. He made all four of his 3-point attempts.
Channing Frye’s 3-pointer put Phoenix up 64-50 midway through the third quarter.
But Webster hit consecutive 3-pointers that narrowed it to 69-65. But Dudley answered with a 3-pointer for the Suns.
The Suns are 6-1 in their last six potential series-clinching games.
Portland has never won a series that they have trailed 3-2.
NOTES: C Greg Oden was at Portland’s shootaround earlier Thursday. The 7-foot former No. 1 draft pick broke his left kneecap and required season-ending surgery early in December. Oden addressed reporters during Thursday’s shootaround, saying he was not yet doing any court-related workouts. … Suns C Robin Lopez, who has a bulging disc in his back, participated in the Suns’ shootaround but is not close to returning. It was unclear if he’d be available for the second round.
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