NBA Playoffs Suns Blazers Game 2: You Can’t Tell A Heart The Suns Play Defense. Unless That Heart Belongs to Rudy Fernandez.

I know the script says that Phoenix doesn’t play defense and they can’t get a stop. And I know that the Blazers are without their number one option on offense, their number three option on offense, and their young long wing shooter. I get that. But to ignore the swarming help defense Phoenix was capable of at times last night would be to do them a disservice.

Here’s the possessions that had me turn to Paroxi-wife and say “You can go to bed, now, this one’s done.” In the first quarter.

Bayless comes up and settles into the offense. By the time everyone gets where they’re supposed to be? The clock’s at 16 before he even initiates.

Bayless drives and tries to take his man off the dribble, but the Suns are set in a box and that ain’t happening. Instead of forcing a bad shot, he kicks out to Webster.

Except the Suns close. hard. Bayless follows through on the swing, but you’re already looking at a dwindling clock. Yet Webster, like Bayless before him, dribbles, trying to get the Suns to suddenly evaporate. Juwan Howard chills out. Fernandez is buried on the other side, Howard’s not getting that pass, and Bayless is swinging through. Yikes.

Webster outlets to Fernandez who pulls to the mid-wing.  Despite A. the space he has between him and his defender, B. the fact that it’s Steve Nash trying to run out on him, and C. the fact that the clock is now at 8 seconds and they’re unlikely to get a better look because D. 3/5 of the Blazer offense is apparently starting a rub-a-dub down on the left block, Fernandez elects not to shoot. But he tries for the touch pass to an open Bayless. As long as the pass isn’t off, Bayless should be able to rise and fire.

The pass is off.

So Richardson’s back up in his face. Martell Webster doesn’t appear to have any discernible idea of what it is that his objective is, and starts trotting back the way he came, even though there’s only six seconds left on the clock. Meanwhile, Channing Frye and Jared Dudley are literally waiting on Bayless to dribble into their clutches baseline with the clock winding down. So naturally, Bayless dribbles RIGHT INTO THEM.

There are now zero Blazers really open, even with a double, and the shot clock is at 3. Which means that from the corner, Bayless has to throw a desperation kick out to Fernandez…

And of course the pass is long. So Fernandez barely has enough time to catch and throw up a prayer. But hey, Webster’s open in the corner!

Aaaaand fail.

I miss Brandon Roy.

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.