The Blazers have been in a slump, losing six out of their last seven games and sinking fast in the Western conference standings. What a nice time for the Phoenix Suns to roll into town. Without their two leading scorers, Devon Booker and TJ Warren, and limping along in last place anyway, the Suns were just the opponent the Blazers needed. Phoenix only managed to score nine points in the first quarter of their last game. Amazingly, they repeated that woeful feat in Portland. The score after one quarter was 34-9. Portland's Jake Layman had a fantastic night, scoring a career high 24 points. The game was never in doubt and the final tally was 108-86.
Blazer guard CJ McCollum was sidelined for this game with an ankle injury and Seth Curry took his place in the starting line-up. This gave reserve Jake Layman a chance to crack the rotation. Layman, who had been a starter until Moe Harkless returned from injury, hadn't seen playing time in the last 5 games. He came in ready to roll though, hitting every shot he took in the first quarter and scoring 15 points in his first six minutes. The crowd loved this narrative and roared louder and louder as he continued his hot streak. It was the only real drama in this runaway blowout game. The Blazers led by 21 at the half. Here's a sampling of the fans roaming the halls during the break:
These guys brought the holiday spirit:
These two brought the Rip City spirit:
This couple has been season ticket holders since the first year the Rose Garden opened, over 20 years ago:
This guy in the dreidel costume wouldn't talk to me. He didn't want to break the mystery, I guess. He was there because it was the 5th night of Chanukah and gave out dreidels to fans:
The Suns have several quality players, so it was somewhat surprising that they played so badly. Their roster includes two-time sixth man of the year Jamal Crawford, savvy veteran Trevor Ariza, and 2018 first overall draft pick Deandre Ayton. But they are a team in disarray. Every Blazer player who suited up for this game saw playing time and every one of them scored. It was the sort of confidence booster our home team needed and will hopefully set them back on their winning ways.
After his big night, Jake Layman was asked the burning question on everyone's mind, "What's up with that new mustache?"
He strangely claimed that "it was not intentional" and that he "kind of messed up shaving." Uh, okay, but we think he should consider keeping it after that inspiring play. Let's have a look at one of his better dunks that night:
The Blazers now sit at 7th place in wild western conference with a respectable record of 14 wins and 11 losses. They play the improving Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Saturday, another game they should win, but will likely be more of a challenge.