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Dragic, Suns down Blazers
Portland, OR (Sports Network) - Goran Dragic scored 16 points and dished out a career-high 18 assists to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 102-98 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
Luis Scola added 18 points Wesley Johnson scored 14 points off the bench for the Suns, who put the brakes on a four-game skid.
"It was a great team effort tonight," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said. "Defensively we were a lot sharper than we've been in the past, and the majority of the game I think we really executed defensively. I think that's the reason why we were able to get the win. Guys played the right way and shared the ball, and that's the side effects we want to have from all the work we've put in."
J.J. Hickson scored 25 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, while Damian Lillard added 24 points and seven assists for the Trail Blazers, losers in six straight.
Phoenix led 94-82 with just under seven minutes left, but the Blazers used a 16-6 burst to pull within 101-97 with just 20.5 seconds left.
A highlight-reel layup from Lillard sparked the run. The exceptional rookie took the ball on the left wing, shook a double team and headed to the basket. Lillard was met in the air by another pair of Suns' defenders, but twisted his body to maneuver between them before finishing the play with a reverse layup.
Lillard then drained a 3-ball with just under four minutes left to make it 92-86.
The Suns scored the next four points, but Nicolas Batum drained a trey to pull Portland within 100-95. Nolan Smith then split a pair from the free-throw line and LaMarcus Aldridge sunk two free throws to make it a two-point game.
Dragic then drained a pair from the charity stripe to push the spread to four points.
Lillard and Batum each missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds, and the Suns held on for just their sixth road victory of the season.
Phoenix led 36-23 after the first 12 minutes and took a 63-47 lead into the break. The Blazers outscored the Suns 26-21 in the third to cut the deficit to 84-73 entering the final frame.
"It's very disappointing with the defense in the first half," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "Obviously the slow start, getting down 12-0, had a lot to do with the first half. We gave up 63 points in the first half and 60 percent shooting. We can't afford to do that. The second half, they scored 39 and we did what we have to do, but we can't afford to come out and let teams execute and do what they want to do."
The Suns are 6-23 on the road this season ... Phoenix scored 21 points off 18 Portland turnovers ... Aldridge scored 23 points for the Blazers ... Portland was without guard Wesley Matthews because of a left ankle injury.
02/20 02:44:48 ET
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