PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Wesley Matthews and the Portland Trail Blazers hope their modest two-game winning streak is the beginning of a turnaround.
Matthews scored 24 points, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 apiece and the Blazers rallied to beat Phoenix 106-99 on Tuesday night, ending the Suns' three-game winning streak.
Matthews was coming off a 26-point effort in a 100-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night that snapped Portland's six-game slide.
``We needed both wins we got,' he said. ``We can come back. We can be on the other end.'
The Blazers fought back against the Suns, scoring 37 points in the fourth quarter. They made 32 of 33 free throws. But most of all, according to coach Nate McMillan, they played as a team.
``There were certainly some individuals that did some good things, but it was a great team effort tonight,' he said.
The Suns led by as many as nine points early in the fourth quarter but the Blazers, known lately for letting games slip away, tied it at 89 on Nicolas Batum's layup and went in front on Aldridge's two free throws with 3:38 left. Matthews made two more foul shots to extend Portland's lead.
Channing Frye fouled out for the Suns when he was called for an offensive foul on a dunk, and Phoenix lost another chance to draw closer when Steve Nash missed an off-balance jumper.
Batum's 3-pointer with 1:38 left put Portland ahead 96-89 and the Blazers led the rest of the way.
Nash had 24 points and 15 assists.
``We struggled to score at times, and that was it,' Nash said. ``They did a better job than us defensively.'
The Blazers played without guard Andre Miller, who was serving a one-game suspension imposed by the league for making ``excessive and unnecessary contact' with Blake Griffin in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win.
The suspension snapped Miller's consecutive games streak at 632, which had been the longest among active players in the NBA. Miller had not missed a game since Jan. 24, 2003.
The Blazers' starting lineup lacked a true point guard with Miller out. Portland started Batum, who had been serving as a reserve, but he collected two quick fouls. He finished with 12 points.
Portland got a boost from Patty Mills, who played nearly 29 minutes and had nine points and seven assists. It was Mills' longest outing this season.
Mills also was effective in pressuring Nash.
``He did a nice job,' McMillan said. ``He came in defensively, made Nash work. And offensively we've got a guy now who can run the pick-and-roll and spread the floor.'
The Suns were coming off a 125-108 victory over Washington, when Nash was perfect from the field and finished with 20 points and a season-high 17 assists.
Portland led early but Nash's fallback jumper put the Suns up 21-20 with 3:15 left in the first quarter. The lead was short-lived as Roy hit a 20-foot jumper on the other end and the Blazers led 29-23 at the end of one.
Rudy Fernandez hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Portland a 37-30 lead. The Blazers extended the margin to as many as 12 points but the Suns closed to 51-47 at the break.
Phoenix scored the first six points of the second half, capped by Jason Richardson's layup, to take a 53-51 lead. Nash had eight assist in the third quarter alone and the Suns extended the lead to 75-69.
The Blazers held Richardson to six points.
``We played good basketball tonight,' McMillan said. ``I know we're capable of doing it and tonight we did it again.'
The Blazers, who lost to the Suns in the first round of the playoffs last season, defeated Phoenix in the season opener, 106-92 at the Rose Garden.
NOTES: Blazers C Joel Przybilla will miss Friday's game at Phoenix to attend the funeral of his wife's grandmother. ... Former Oregon men's basketball coach Ernie Kent attended the game. ... Mills had six assists in the first half. ... Nash was averaging 18.2 points and 10.4 assists going into the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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