Phoenix at Portland

Richardson powers Suns past Blazers, into second round

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Jason Richardson wanted to be the wild card in the playoffs for the Phoenix Suns.

So while the Portland Trail Blazers were focused on Amar'e Stoudemire and Steve Nash, Richardson came up big for the third time in the first-round series, scoring 28 points in a 99-90 victory in Game 6 on Thursday night.

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The victory sends the third-seeded Suns into the second round against seventh-seeded San Antonio, which advanced by beating Dallas 97-87 earlier Thursday night. The opening game of the Western Conference semifinals will be Monday night in Phoenix.

Richardson had 29 points in the Suns' 119-90 victory in Game 2 before scoring a career playoff-high 42 in a 108-89 victory in Game 3.

"Everybody knows what Steve can do, and everybody knows what Amar'e can do. I'm just trying to be that wild card, that third scorer, and help us get wins and try to go deep into the playoffs," Richardson said.

The Suns last went to the second round in 2007, when they got past the Los Angeles Lakers to open the playoffs before falling to the Spurs. In 2008, the Spurs got the best of Phoenix in the first round.

Since the 2002-03 season, the Spurs have eliminated the Suns from the postseason four times.

The Suns went up 53-41 at halftime and led by as many as 16 points in the second half. The Blazers tied it at 76 midway through the fourth quarter, but could not pull ahead.

Martell Webster had 19 points for Portland, which failed to advance out of the first round for the second successive year.

The Blazers narrowed it to 74-71 with 10:44 left on Rudy Fernandez's 3-pointer. Jared Dudley fouled Webster on a 3-point attempt, and Webster made two free throws to close to 74-73.

After Leandro Barbosa's bank shot, Jerryd Bayless hit a long jumper that pulled Portland within one. Amare Stoudemire fouled LaMarcus Aldridge, who made one of two free throws to tie it at 76.

Stoudemire's layup prevented Portland from taking the lead, and Goran Dragic added a basket to put the Suns in front 80-76. Phoenix extended it on back-to-back layups and a 3-pointer from Richardson to make it 87-78 with 4:36 left.

Steve Nash sealed it with a 3-pointer that gave the Suns a 92-82 lead.

Stoudemire finished with 22 points for the Suns, while Nash, who said afterward he had been battling a hip injury since Game 2, had 10 points.

Richardson made five of eight 3-point attempts.

"J-Rich definitely shot the ball extremely well from the outside and he created for us," Stoudemire said. "He's been a great addition to this team, a great help in the playoffs, and hopefully we can see that great play continue in the next series."

Brandon Roy had 14 points for the Blazers in his first start of the series. Portland's three-time All-Star had arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee two days before the series against the Suns opened.

He was originally ruled out of the first round, but unexpectedly came back for Game 4, which the Blazers won 96-87 at the Rose Garden.

Roy had 10 points in that game, then got only five in Portland's 107-88 loss in Game 5 in Phoenix, but he was coming off the bench -- which he said made him uncomfortable.

Roy said that after all the team had been through, he wanted to finish on the court and not on the bench.

"I was happy I was able to play," he said. "I wasn't able to play as well as I liked. I didn't have quite the bounce that I needed but at least I can go into the summertime knowing that I'm healthy and I finished the season out with my guys."

The Suns, who found success in the series when they established a fast pace, went up 17-6 early with Richardson hitting three 3-pointers.

But Stoudemire collected two quick fouls and retreated to the bench. Richardson wound up with 14 points after the first quarter, but it was tempered by Nash's five turnovers.

Portland narrowed it to 28-26 on Fernandez's 3-pointer.

The Suns stretched the lead to 41-32, but Roy finally came alive, hitting a running 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4:51 to go in the half.

Hill's fast-break layup and free throw made it 53-40. Richardson finished the first half with 19 points. He made all four of his 3-point attempts.

Channing Frye hit a 3-pointer to put Phoenix up 64-50 midway through the third quarter.

Webster hit back-to-back 3-pointers that narrowed it to 69-65, but Dudley answered with a 3-pointer for the Suns.

Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry credited the defense.

"At the end of the night, they shot 38 percent. To me, that's a credit to our defense. Nobody really talks about it, but we like it," Gentry said. "In the locker room, we pat each other on the back."

Hill advanced past the first round for the first time in his 14-year career.

The Suns are 6-1 in their past seven potential series-clinching games.

Portland has never won a series in which it has trailed 3-2.

"Seemed like every time we were able to get close, we'd make a mistake," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "Whether it was a turnover or a bad possession, they make you pay. Nash has had that MVP-type season. Richardson was big this series. Amar'e came with his 'A' Game tonight."

Notes

  • C Greg Oden was at Portland's shootaround earlier Thursday. The 7-foot former No. 1 draft pick broke his left kneecap and required season-ending surgery early in December. Oden addressed reporters during Thursday's shootaround, saying he was not yet doing any court-related workouts.
  • Suns C Robin Lopez, who has a bulging disc in his back, participated in the Suns' shootaround but is not close to returning. It was unclear if he would be available for the second round.
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Jason Richardson drops 28 points, including five 3-pointers, to help the Suns advance.  (Getty Images)
Jason Richardson drops 28 points, including five 3-pointers, to help the Suns advance. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Phoenix (4-2) «2429212599
Portland (2-4) 1724242590
PHO:J. Richardson 28 Pts
PHO:G. Hill 12 Reb
PHO:S. Nash 6 Ast
POR:M. Webster 19 Pts
POR:L. Aldridge 9 Reb
POR:J. Bayless 7 Ast
Players of the Game
PortlandPhoenix

L. Aldridge

J. Richardson
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
16922872
Phoenix
J. Richardson, SG3310-163-372428
A. Stoudemire, PF329-154-633322
G. Hill, SF311-41-312413
S. Nash, PG302-75-526010
J. Collins, C141-20-04032
J. Dudley, SF283-73-523312
C. Frye, C251-50-04033
G. Dragic, PG184-70-003010
L. Amundson, PF162-50-24044
L. Barbosa, SG132-61-21015
E. Clark, SF10-00-01000
R. Lopez, CDid Not Play
T. Griffin, PFDid Not Play
D. Jones, PFDid Not Play
Totals 35-7417-2640212299
 47.3%65.4% 
Portland
L. Aldridge, PF455-176-892416
B. Roy, SG374-165-554314
M. Camby, C212-40-04234
A. Miller, PG182-100-01304
N. Batum, SF141-10-00103
M. Webster, SG336-104-542419
J. Bayless, PG294-123-447312
R. Fernandez, SG185-61-221016
J. Howard, PF160-10-01020
D. Cunningham, SF91-20-05022
J. Pendergraph, PFDid Not Play
P. Mills, PGDid Not Play
T. Diener, PGDid Not Play
G. Oden, CDid Not Play
J. Przybilla, CDid Not Play
Totals 30-7919-2435222190
 38.0%79.2% 
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