PORTLAND — Goran Dragic got right to the point after dishing a career-high 18 assists against Portland.
“It was really fun," said a smiling Dragic, who also had 16 points in the Suns’ 102-98 victory over the Trail Blazers Tuesday night. “I would like to thank all my teammates — they were hitting shots."
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Suns.
“I think he was aggressive as he always is, and he made plays," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said of Dragic’s career night. “It was amazing but it was fun to watch because everybody was getting involved."
Wesley Johnson came off the bench to score a season-high 14 points for the Suns, who opened the game with a 12-0 run and led by as many as 19 points before holding off a late Portland rally.
J.J. Hickson had 25 points and 16 rebounds for his 28th double-double of the season for the Blazers, who lost their sixth straight to match their season-high.
The Blazers pulled to within 96-92 on rookie Damian Lillard’s 3-pointer with 3:57 left in the game. Marcin Gortat’s dunk and Luis Scola’s layup slowed the rally, but Nicolas Batum made a 3-pointer to close the Blazers within 100-95 with 2:35 to go.
Nolan Smith made a free throw and LaMarcus Aldridge added two more with 20.5 seconds left to make it 100-98. After Dragic made a pair of free throws for the Suns, Lillard’s 3-point attempt fell short as time wound down.
“Like we always do, we made it a game down the stretch," said Lillard, the reigning rookie of the month who finished with 24 points. “We just couldn’t catch them."
Portland was without starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews because of a sprained left ankle and elbow that he hurt in the first quarter of Portland’s 99-63 loss to New Orleans just before the All-Star break. That loss capped a six-game Portland road trip, which started with a victory at Minnesota but concluded with five-straight losses. The Blazers hadn’t played at home since Feb. 2.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts said he didn’t want to use Matthews’ absence as an excuse.
“Obviously, Wes is a very important part of the team, but I think we showed that we can still compete without him," Stotts said. “If he’s not in there, everybody has to step up a bit."
The Suns (18-36) lost to the Lakers at Staples Center 91-85 last Wednesday. Phoenix is a league-worst 6-23 on the road this season.
It was the first of a back-to-back for Phoenix, which visits the Golden State Warriors today as trade rumors continue to swirl around the team. Coach Lindsey Hunter said before the game that his focus is on the Suns, which has the worst record in the Western Conference.
“I’m sure if something gets serious, I’ll know about it," he said. The trade deadline is Thursday.
Last season at the deadline the Blazers fired coach Nate McMillan and traded away both Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby. This season most trade talk is about Hickson, who must agree to any deal.
The Suns jumped out to a 12-0 lead to start the game, led by Scola with six points. Portland did not score until Hickson’s jumper with 7:17 left in the first quarter. The Blazers were playing catch-up the rest of the way, and trailed 36-23 at the end of the quarter.
The Suns extended the lead to 40-25 on Johnson’s 16-foot-jumper and led 63-47 at the half.
Also on Tuesday:
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Mike Conley scored 19 points, Zach Randolph had his 31st double-double and Memphis won its fourth straight game, beating Detroit.
SALT LAKE CITY — Al Jefferson scored 24 points, Gordon Hayward added 17 in his return from a shoulder injury and Utah defeated Golden State to extend the Warriors’ losing streak to six games.
NEW YORK — Joe Johnson hit a tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter and then his buzzer-beating jumper at the end of overtime lifted Brooklyn to a victory over Milwaukee.
NEW ORLEANS — Luol Deng scored 20 points and Chicago snapped a two-game skid with a victory over New Orleans.
WASHINGTON — DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay scored 24 points apiece, and Toronto won a matchup between slow-starting, coming-on-lately teams.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson each had 24 points, Byron Mullens added 20 points and 12 rebounds and Charlotte survived Orlando’s second-half comeback.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tony Parker had 30 points and 11 assists to lead San Antonio to a victory over Sacramento, giving the Spurs their 15th win in their past 16 games.
DENVER — Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson each scored 26 points to help Denver snap a three-game losing streak by beating Boston.