PHOENIX – No doubt Phoenix Suns fans have to ask which of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe are future pieces. And if we’re not to get locked into thinking one of them has to go, the obvious answer is, probably, both.
Dragic scored 29 points while Bledsoe added 28. After seven early turnovers, the duo cleaned up to put in a 21-for-30 shooting evening. They were two blurs attacking from different spots, and in the end it wasn’t enough for the Sacramento Kings to overcome in their a 116-107 loss at U.S. Airways Center on Friday.
The Suns are on a four-game winning streak.
After leading by as many as 11 in the first quarter, Phoenix found itself behind 39-28 1:30 into the second as the defense waned. Dragic sparked a run that tied the game at 47 with 4:38 left in the half, but the swing ended just about there.
Sacramento led 61-58 at halftime despite Phoenix shooting 63.6 percent from the floor and turning the ball over 12 times leading to 22 points. And the Suns used what we can assume was a halftime admonishing by Hornacek to start the third with a 19-4 run.
In a usual game of swings, it was the final shifts that went the Suns’ way and did in the Kings.
Where the guards did the offensive damage, Miles Plumlee was responsible for a couple of crucial plays and some stellar defense. The center not only had a big statistical evening (12 points, nine rebounds, four steals, three blocks and two assists) but three minutes into the second half chased down Kings center DeMarcus Cousins from behind and swatted a layup off the backboard leading to Bledsoe jumper. In the fourth, Plumlee added two more blocks against Cousins and caught two alley-oops as the Kings center lost his cool.
Phoenix build a 10-point lead late into the game, but Sacramento came within four points, 105-101, in the final three minutes before a Bledsoe three and assist to P.J. Tucker for an And 1 washed away the Kings’ hopes.
Plumlee cleaned up a rebound a minute later with a left-handed flush to seal the Suns’ fourth win in a row.
On to the preguntas posed by Dave Dulberg.
Does Bledsoe make the difference?
There was a lot of good and bad with Eric Bledsoe, depending on what side of the floor you’re talking about. From the tip, Bledsoe struggled to keep with Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas, the newly-appointed starter with Greivis Vasquez shipped to Toronto. The former Washington Husky scored 13 points in the first quarter and hit two threes.
While Dragic made all the difference as the Suns pushed their way back into the game to earn a late first-half lead, Bledsoe came in for the last four minutes and continued to get burned. Thomas pulled up on a delayed transition three-pointer with Bledsoe sagging for whatever reason, prompting Hornacek to call for Dragic’s return with just more than a minute to play.
The coach’s message was received.
Bledsoe made two layups and then pulled up for an 18-foot jumper before finding Channing Frye for a three-pointer on the final possession of the half to somewhat salvage his poor performance to that point. From then on, Bledsoe was locked in. He finished with 28 points, eight assists three steals and two pointed blocks on Cousins.
Over/under 22 points for Marcus Morris?
Way, way under. Morris scored eight points and his most noticeable play was throwing a pass to the referee out of bounds off a made Kings bucket so hard it earned him one of five technicals dolled out to the two teams.
Different team, same result?
Like the previous two games, Phoenix’s defense only appeared in spurts, but the difference in front of the U.S. Airways crowd was that the Suns at least had spurts, period.
Oddly for the Kings, it was Aaron Gray who did the most damage to the Suns as far as the newcomers were concerned, and that’s considering Rudy Gay scored 24 and former Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams added 14 off the bench.
Gray scored nine points and was most notable on the boards, grabbed six of his nine on the offensive glass.