Blazers wary of warming Suns
The Phoenix Suns own the worst record in the Western Conference at 15-51 and have dropped seven straight games to the Trail Blazers, whom they face Saturday night in Portland.
But the Blazers are taking nothing for granted, even against a team that lost 17 in a row in January and February. Phoenix goes to Portland on a three-game winning streak after knocking off the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks.
"It's another tough game for us," Portland point guard Damian Lillard said after the Blazers' 129-121 home loss in overtime against Oklahoma City on Thursday night. "In this league, you can't look at teams' records. That's a set-up to come out and have bad performances and get beat.
"Not only are (the Suns) a team that's capable, they're playing well right now. A team that's playing well can go out and beat anybody. The Bucks have the best record in the league, and (the Suns) beat them. I'm sure they're coming in here thinking they can get us, too. We have to have our minds right."
The Blazers' mindset was fine but their aim was just a bit off against the Thunder.
Portland shot only 39.4 percent from the field and 22.0 percent (9 for 41) from 3-point range. Lillard scored a season-high 51 points and made a career-high 18 free throws in 20 attempts, but it wasn't quite enough against Russell Westbrook, Paul George and company.
"We had a really good performance as a group," Lillard said.
"It was competitive, an exciting game for people watching on TV. The crowd was into it. It was the kind of game we wanted. When it came down to it, somebody had to be better down the stretch, and it was (the Thunder)."
Phoenix guard Devin Booker was at his best in a 107-96 win over the Knicks on Wednesday, bombing in a season-high 41 points. Booker tied a career high with six 3-pointers, shooting 14 for 23 from the field, 6 for 10 from 3-point range and 7 for 7 from the foul line.
"It felt good, but what feels better is three wins in a row," Booker said. "So, we keep trying to build on that and I keep saying that after every game. Every game is a new test for us, and we're moving in the right direction."
Small forward Kelly Oubre has also been on a roll for the Suns. In February, the 6-foot-7 Oubre averaged 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds. In four games in March, he has averaged 19.5 points and 6.8 boards. In a 114-105 win over Milwaukee on Monday, Oubre collected 27 points and 13 rebounds.
"He's been a real spark to the team," Phoenix guard Tyler Johnson said. "It's been beautiful to watch. He's very vocal. He brings a great sense of energy, both on and off the court."
The Suns begin a murderer's row in which they play Portland, Golden State, Utah and Houston in succession.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 8, 2019