Miller’s 31 Leads Blazers to 105-100 Upset of Suns

The Associated Press

PHOENIX – Andre Miller scored 15 points in the fourth quarter and tied his career playoff high with 31 points as the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers stole homecourt advantage from Phoenix with a 105-100 victory over the Suns on Sunday night.

Methodical Portland was a tough matchup for the Suns all season and it was no different in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, despite the absence of the Blazers’ scoring leader, Brandon Roy.

LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 points and Nicolas Batum 18 for Portland. Jerryd Bayless also had 18 for the Blazers, 10 in the fourth quarter, but missed two free throws with 12.2 seconds left to give Phoenix a shot to tie. Steve Nash’s 3-point try was well short, though, and Miller’s two free throws iced the victory.

Marcus Camby grabbed 17 rebounds for Portland, two shy off his career playoff best.

Roy is out for the series after arthroscopic knee surgery, and the Blazers lost Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla earlier in the season. But Portland won two of three against the Suns, including a win at Phoenix when the Blazers didn’t have Roy.

The Suns, the NBA’s highest-scoring team at 110 points per game, never got into their usually fluid offense but still led 87-85 after Stoudemire’s 16-footer with 4:57 to play.

Miller, though, made his only 3-point attempt of the night to put Portland ahead for good 88-87 4:28 from the finish, and then Aldridge sank two free throws to make it 90-87 with 4:12 remaining. Nash’s 22-footer cut it to 90-89, but Miller made two free throws, Aldridge tipped one in over Stoudemire, and Portland was up 94-89 with 3:37 left.

Nash’s 3-pointer briefly cut the lead to 94-92, but Batum responded with a 3 of his own 17 seconds later and Bayless made two free throws to put the Blazers up 99-92 with 1:29 to go.

The Suns missed repeated 3s before Jason Richardson finally made one to cut it to 103-100 with 12.5. After Bayless missed two free throws, Nash dribbled upcourt and let it fly, but his shot was not even close.

Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said his team would be fine if it hit its shots, but the Suns shot just 42 percent and were 9 of 24 in the final quarter, including 3 of 13 on 3s.

Portland was the aggressor from the outset while the Suns settled for jump shots. The evidence was at the foul line, where Phoenix had just two attempts in the first half.

The Blazers led 44-43 at the break behind Aldridge’s 13 points and Camby’s 12 rebounds.

The Suns never led by more than four in the third quarter. Channing Frye’s 10-foot jump hook with 2.5 seconds left in the quarter gave Phoenix a precarious 72-70 lead entering the fourth.

Leandro Barbosa scored 13 in eight minutes in the first half, when he made all five of his shots, three of them 3s. He was scoreless in the second half.