NBA: Suns turn up the heat, rout Trail Blazers 119-90
AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX — Jason Richardson scored 29 points, Grant Hill made 10-of-11 shots for 20, and the Phoenix Suns rediscovered their high-energy style in a 119-90 rout of the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night to square their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.
Unlike Game 1, Steve Nash pushed the Suns to their preferred tempo from the start and finished with 13 points and 16 assists. Amare Stoudemire scored 18. None of the Suns' starters played in the fourth quarter.
Martell Webster led the Blazers with 16 points. Andre Miller was limited to 12 after getting 31 in Portland's 105-100 victory on Sunday night. Nicolas Batum also scored 12 before leaving with a right shoulder strain at the end of the third quarter.
Phoenix, lulled into the Blazers' slowdown game in the series opener, shot 52 percent to Portland's 38 percent. The Suns led by 14 at the half and blew it open in the third quarter.
The series shifts to Portland for Game 3 on Thursday night.
The Suns improved to 27-4 this season when Richardson scores at least 20.
Portland, playing without leading scorer Brandon Roy, had stolen home-court advantage with a Game 1 win and had consistently disrupted the Suns' style this season. Phoenix, the No. 3 seed, faced the possibility of going to Portland down 2-0.
The concern didn't last for long as the Blazers failed to slow down the NBA's highest-scoring team. The Suns dominated the points in the paint 58-38 and had a 26-12 advantage in second-chance points.
Portland trailed 63-49 at the half, and any hopes for a comeback vanished in the Suns' blistering third quarter.
Richardson had five as the Suns outscored Portland 13-4 to lead 78-58 with six minutes to go in the period. During the run, Nash provided the highlight of the night with a circus basket. The 36-year-old playmaker drove to the hoop and, with his back to the basket, banked the ball in with his left hand. Portland went nearly five minutes without a field goal while the Suns poured it on.
Channing Frye's 3-pointer put Phoenix ahead 92-66, then Jared Dudley deflected Batum's pass and tossed the ball ahead to Richardson for a fast-break dunk that gave the Suns a 94-66 lead with 42 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Nash started the game with seven assists on the first eight baskets, and he scored the other one. He had nine assists at the end of the first quarter and 12 at halftime.
Richardson, 4 of 12 from the field in the first game, scored 15 in the first quarter, one more than he did in all of Game 1, and had 20 at the break. Hill, who shot 2 of 9 in Game 1, made his first 10 shots, most of them mid-range jumpers, before finally missing one.
Twice in the first half, Phoenix scored on a layup six seconds after the Blazers made a basket, the second a three-point play by Leandro Barbosa that put the Suns ahead 39-27 early in the second quarter.
After shooting two free throws the entire first half on Sunday, the Suns were 16 of 18 at the break on Tuesday, a statistic that usually measures a team's aggressiveness.
Still, the Trail Blazers stayed within striking distance for a half, thanks largely to going 15 of 16 at the foul line.