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Bayless leads Trail Blazers to win over Suns

Dec 18, 2009 - 7:30 AM PORTLAND, Ore.(AP) -- The injury-plagued Portland Trail Blazers received a boost from an unlikely source: third string point guard Jerryd Bayless.

Bayless had a career-high 29 points and hit three free throws in the final 9 seconds, and the Trail Blazers overcame a 15-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Phoenix Suns 105-102 on Thursday night.

"He's getting the opportunity to play and making the most of it," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We know JB can put points on the board. With all the guys that we have out, we need him."

Brandon Roy added 27 points and eight rebounds for the Blazers, who have won two in a row after dropping six of eight. LaMarcus Aldridge and Martell Webster each had 15 points and seven rebounds.

Bayless made two free throws with 8.9 seconds left to give Portland a 104-100 lead. Steve Nash drove to the hoop to cut the lead to two points. Bayless was fouled with 4.0 seconds left and a chance to seal the game but he made 1-of-2 fouls shots.

That gave the Suns a chance to tie it, but Nash's off-balance 3-point attempt bounced off the rim as time expired.

Amare Stoudemire had 27 points and Grant Hill added 20 points for the Suns, who have lost six straight on the road for the first time since Jan. 28 to Feb. 20, 2004. Channing Frye had 17 points and Nash had 16 points, 13 assists and five rebounds.

"We can't play good for 36 minutes," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "We have to play well for 48 minutes. That's the only way you win on the road."

The Blazers have been plagued by injuries since the start of the season. It started with forward Nicolas Batum, who had to have shoulder surgery just prior to the opener. Then forward Travis Outlaw fractured his left foot in mid-November. Fellow guard Rudy Fernandez had a procedure on his back to alleviate leg pain and center Greg Oden broke his left kneecap during a game against Houston on Dec. 5. The former No. 1 draft pick spoke to reporters at the Blazers' practice facility earlier Thursday.

"I'm definitely going to put just as much effort (into) coming back as soon as possible," he said. "It's a difficult situation and it's frustrating, but I've got to keep my head together. Just like I did before."

The Blazers were granted a hardship exemption by the NBA and earlier Thursday they signed 6-foot-9 forward Anthony Tolliver from the team's NBA Developmental League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede. Tolliver had averaged 20.7 points and 9.9 rebounds with the Stampede.

The Suns were without Jason Richardson, who sat out with a sprained ankle. In his place, Goran Dragic, who had a career-high 18 against San Antonio Tuesday, had just nine points on 3-of-7 shooting.

Bayless, a second-year pro from Arizona, has been competing for playing time with veterans Steve Blake and Andre Miller.

In the starting lineup for the second night, Miller took arm in the face from Hill and left in the second quarter. He returned in the second half but gave way as Bayless heated up, scoring 16 points in the fourth and combining with Roy to make a potent duo.

"Me and Bran talk about what I can do," Bayless said. "He can be the LeBron (James) and I can be Mo (Williams), a guy that can make plays."

Hill had 13 points in the first quarter and former Blazer Frye had three 3-pointers in the second quarter as Phoenix built up an 11-point lead. Frye hit back-to-back 3s to make it 55-44.

The Suns extended their lead to 15 in the third after a pullup jumper by Nash and driving layup by Alondo Tucker made it 79-64.

Portland hit five 3-pointers in less than five minutes - including two a piece by Webster and Steve Blake to get back into it. Blake's second 3 cut the lead to 86-81 with 8:47 remaining in the fourth.

Bayless scored Portland's next eight points and then converted a lay-in to give the Blazers a 94-92 lead with 3:43 remaining. Roy drove to the hoop for a score and Bayless made a 3 to put Portland up 99-94.

Nash responded by hitting back-to-back 3s for the Suns to cut the lead to 102-100 with 33.8 seconds left.

NOTES: The Suns play 10 of their next 12 games at the U.S. Airways Center, where they are unbeaten this season. Phoenix has played an NBA-low nine home games this season. ... Portland presented former coach Jack Ramsay with a No. 77 "Rip City" jersey. Ramsay, 84, coached the Blazers from 1976-86, and won a title in 1977. He was in town to provide the color commentary for Westwood One radio. ... Phoenix has lost 17 straight when playing a nationally televised game on TNT.