Phoenix 34 of 42 from the free throw line both opponent season highs vs. Blazers (Old 30 made at Atlanta 1/21 and 38 attempts at Boston 1/16) . . . Standing room crowd of 20,595 is 17th straight sellout and 16th of 20,000+ . . . The Suns have now won seven in a row and 11 of the last 12 in the series, and four in a row in the Rose Garden.
“I thought we missed some easy point-blank range shots early in the game. In the first quarter they pretty much got what they wanted, the first half, they were knocking down threes and getting to the basket. It seemed like we had open looks they came down and scored pretty easily. We looked tight. I thought we started to tighten up and they got what they wanted and built the lead that was tough to dig ourselves out of.
“I thought in the second half we came out and played the way we are capable of playing. Maybe you’re down and you’re a little more relaxed and we got ourselves back in the game and had a chance to win it.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say we were fatigued. Brandon looked a little bit fatigued, winded with his minutes (42) but other than that everyone else played average minutes. There were shots you can’t hesitate on and though we hesitated more than taking those shots. We had some looks when you’re open and you’ve got to shoot the ball. A couple of our guys hesitated. … if anything I thought they fatigued with them playing seven guys I thought we wore them down and they started to fatigue and we got more open looks. They were the aggressors in the first half and we came out and turned it around.
“We missed shots and I thought defensively the first half we weren’t physical enough. I thought we allowed them to make their cuts freely without contact, without grabbing so they got to the basket. Penetration was there. We left three-point shooters open and we were 2-for-15 from the three. We’ve got 25 attempts from the free throw line but they were the aggressors with 42 attempts.”
“I don’t know if they’d agree but I think I messed up at the end. Everybody makes mistakes. When coach puts me in, he’s trusting me. But I messed up. Overall the second half we did a good job playing defense and limiting them to one shot (per possession). During critical moments we were not able to execute when we needed a bucket.”
“The last 24 (games) teams are positioning themselves for playoffs or they’re positioning themselves for next year.For the teams that aren’t making it to the playoffs, well, we’ve got to give every team the best shot we can. This showed when teams take the initiative early, it makes it tough for us.”
“I started the game thinking I was doing everything right. I was trying to get to the basket. I was getting jump hooks close to the rim and they weren’t going in. It was frustrating. It kind of made me get passive then it was downhill from there. The dunk over Amare? I felt like I was trying to quick-shoot it. I think the whole night I was rushing it. That time, I just told myself to take my time and dunk it."
“You have to give them credit, they looked good. They are playing very hard and Nate is doing a great job. Speaking on us, I thought in the first half we were great. I told them that was the blueprint at how we want to play. That’s it right there. Can we extend that to 48 minutes? Can we even get better within that? That’s our goal.
"There is no reason why we don’t score points. There’s no reason why we don’t fast break. There is no reason that we aren’t efficient in the half court offense. Those things will come along as I get a better feel for the guys. That will come. We’re going to expand our rotation a little bit. We made 7 out of 29 field goals in the second half. If you do that, teams will come back on you.
"We got lucky at the end of the game. We’re fighting and we’re not comfortable yet and so I think we missed some wide open looks. We had some opportunities to ice the game but we just didn’t get it done. Again I’m just going to focus on the positives and there were a lot. We’ll just take another step forward tomorrow night. I thought Shaq made his presence felt, especially in the first half. We used him the way we want too. He’s comfortable with that roll. He was huge in every sense of the word. They shot 41 percent and he’s a big reason for that. We just have to keep running and tighten up our defense on the perimeter.”
“The first half we did a great job defensively. We got guys out of their comfort zone and were very aggressive. We played passing lanes and got a lot of deflections. That led to a big lead.
"The second half Portland came out aggressive. They really tried to change the momentum and they did that. Their fans did a great job at helping them. In the fourth quarter we held on. We scrapped defensively and we were able to get the win. I think we could have been more aggressive attacking the paint, but we’re a jump shooting team at times. We did get shots from the perimeter. We could have had more chances to get to the basket. It’s tough in the west and we have a tough schedule down the stretch so we really have to buckle down and play as hard as we can. We have to give it all we have for the last 24 games.”