The Phoenix Suns will open the NBA playoffs here, but are wondering if they really have a homecourt advantage.
Kevin Johnson scored 23 points and Jeff Hornacek 22 as the Suns used a third-quarter rally Sunday to beat Portland 135-118, ending the Trail Blazers' 16-game winning streak.It also clinched the homecourt advantage for the Suns in their first-round Western Conference series against Utah starting Thursday night.
The Jazz fell from the second seed to the fifth by losing 125-106 at Golden State on Sunday in their regular-season finale.
"We're glad to have the homecourt advantage, and we had to earn it," Phoenix coach Cotton Fitzsimmons said. "Golden State helped us out by beating Utah, but we had our hands full with Portland. We've had some problems at home this year, so we hope to turn things around in the playoffs."
The Suns were 32-9 at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum with 41 straight sellouts during the regular season, yet won a club-record 23 road games.
"It's nice to have the homecourt advantage, but we got all the way to the finals last year without any homecourt advantage," Johnson said. "We know the homecourt advantage isn't going to save us. We've had some terrible games where we've had to regroup. We responded and bounced back to play well."
Last year, the Suns lost their regular-season finale at San Antonio and opened the playoffs at Utah. They wound up beating the Jazz in five games, then eliminating the Los Angeles Lakers in five games before losing to Portland in six games in the conference finals.
The Trail Blazers, who lost in five games to the NBA champion Detroit Pistons last year, had the league's best record this season at 63-19 and will have the homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. They open Friday night at home against Seattle.
"This loss here won't affect us one way or the other," Portland coach Rick Adelman said. "It doesn't have anything to do with what happens from this point forward."
Portland's 16-game winning streak included nine straight road victories and matched the Los Angeles Lakers for the longest in the league this season.
"We achieved a lot," Trail Blazers guard Terry Porter said. "Now, it's time to go on and get back to the finals and win it again."
Portland lost this one in a wild third quarter. Phoenix closed out the first half with a 9-2 spurt to take a 63-56 lead, then opened the second half with an 11-2 run to go up 74-58.
Adelman and Jerome Kersey each got technical fouls for yelling at the officials 1:45 into the third quarter. The Trail Blazers were hit with four other technicals in the period, with Adelman getting ejected with 5:48 left and Clyde Drexler leaving with 1:34 to go.
"It was very ugly," said Portland center Kevin Duckworth. "I felt the referees just took over in the second half."
"I still don't know why I got ejected," Adelman said. "The ref (Joe Crawford) put his fingers to his lips and the next thing I knew, he had tossed me out.
"But Phoenix just took control late in the second period and into the third. We had a dry stretch and it seemed like we were stuck on 42 forever. We just couldn't score."
Hornacek and Johnson each had 14 third-period points as Phoenix led 110-88. Portland never got closer than 14 in the final quarter.
Dan Majerle finished with 20 points, 10 coming in consecutive fashion early in the second period as the Suns erased a 42-32 deficit.
Xavier McDaniel had 18 points and Johnson 14 assists for Phoenix, which trailed 35-30 after the first period.
Buck Williams led the Trail Blazers with 24 points, while Duckworth and Drexler had 18 apiece.