NBA: Roy returns and Blazers down Suns, 96-87
ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. — Brandon Roy made a surprising return from knee surgery and scored 10 points, including a key 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, and the Portland Trail Blazers evened their playoff series with the Phoenix Suns at two games apiece with a 96-87 victory on Saturday.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who unexpectedly activated Roy shortly before the game, eight days after he had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Roy didn't start and played a relatively quiet 26 minutes, but hit a 3-pointer with 4:55 left that gave Portland a 85-79 lead and swung the momentum of a close game.
Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 26 points. The series returns to Phoenix on Monday night.
Roy wasn't expected to play in any of it, with a recovery time of a week to two weeks. Yet he said he was feeling good not long after the surgery and wanted to try playing.
Besides his surprise appearance, the Blazers shook up their lineup, starting second-year guard Jerryd Bayless rather than Rudy Fernandez.
Roy was greeted with a hearty ovation during pregame warmups, and again when he came in the game with 4:06 left in the first quarter. His layup about a minute later put Portland ahead 20-19.
After dropping the series opener 105-100 in Phoenix, the Suns cruised to a 119-90 home victory before beating the Blazers 108-89 in Portland to take the series lead going into Saturday's game.
The Suns in the previous two games had stymied Portland with the pick-and-roll, kicking the ball out to Jason Richardson, who had a career playoff-high 42 points in Game 3.
The Blazers caught on in Game 4, limiting Richardson to 15 points. Steve Nash also had 15 points and eight assists.
Roy's injury was the latest to strike the unlucky Blazers this season. Nicolas Batum missed 45 games to start the season after shoulder surgery, centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla both had season-ending knee surgery, Fernandez had back problems, and former Blazer Travis Outlaw, later traded to the Clippers, was out for an extended period because of a foot injury.
Roy himself was out for 15 games because of a sore hamstring.
The Blazers were much more competitive at the start than they had been the past two games. Fernandez hit a 3-pointer that put Portland up 35-33 in the second quarter and the Blazers extended the lead to 51-45 with 2:09 left on Aldridge's dunk.
But the Suns kept it close, narrowing it to 52-50 on Grant Hill's pull-up jumper before Marcus Camby's tip-in put Portland up 54-50 at the half.
Richardson hit two consecutive 3-pointers to open the second half and gave Phoenix a 56-54 lead.
Portland responded, going up 70-64 on Bayless' fast-break jumper, but the slight cushion was short-lived and Stoudemire's hook tied it 74 early in the fourth quarter.
The Suns were unable to pull ahead, despite poor shooting by the Blazers from the field. Portland missed 12 straight shots but was able to stay in the game on the free throw line.
Then came Roy's 3-pointer with 4:55 left to make it 85-79. He made a pull-up jumper with 2:10 left that gave the Blazers a 91-83 lead, their biggest of the game.