Suns hold off Blazers 102-98
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Goran Dragic got right to the point after dishing a career-high 18 assists against Portland.
"It was really fun," said a smiling Dragic, who also had 16 points in the Suns' 102-98 victory over the Trail Blazers Tuesday night. "I would like to thank all my teammates — they were hitting shots."
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Suns.
"I think he was aggressive as he always is, and he made plays," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said of Dragic's career night. "It was amazing but it was fun to watch because everybody was getting involved."
Wesley Johnson came off the bench to score a season-high 14 points for the Suns, who opened the game with a 12-0 run and led by as many as 19 points before holding off a late Portland rally.
J.J. Hickson had 25 points and 16 rebounds for his 28th double-double of the season for the Blazers, who lost their sixth straight to match their season-high.
The Blazers pulled to within 96-92 on rookie Damian Lillard's 3-pointer with 3:57 left in the game. Marcin Gortat's dunk and Luis Scola's layup slowed the rally, but Nicolas Batum made a 3-pointer to close the Blazers within 100-95 with 2:35 to go.
Nolan Smith made a free throw and LaMarcus Aldridge added two more with 20.5 seconds left to make it 100-98. After Dragic made a pair of free throws for the Suns, Lillard's 3-point attempt fell short as time wound down.
"Like we always do, we made it a game down the stretch," said Lillard, the reigning rookie of the month who finished with 24 points. "We just couldn't catch them."
Portland was without starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews because of a sprained left ankle and elbow that he hurt in the first quarter of Portland's 99-63 loss to New Orleans just before the All-Star break. That loss capped a six-game Portland road trip, which started with a victory at Minnesota but concluded with five-straight losses. The Blazers hadn't played at home since Feb. 2.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts said he didn't want to use Matthews' absence as an excuse.
"Obviously, Wes is a very important part of the team, but I think we showed that we can still compete without him," Stotts said. "If he's not in there, everybody has to step up a bit."
The Suns (18-36) lost to the Lakers at Staples Center 91-85 last Wednesday. Phoenix is a league-worst 6-23 on the road this season.
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