Bledsoe, Green lead Suns past Pelicans
AP — Gerald Green couldn’t miss. Then again, neither did many of his teammates.
Eric Bledsoe had 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting, Green tied a career high with six 3-pointers and the Phoenix Suns rallied to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 104-98 on Tuesday night.
Trailing 60-50, the Suns scored 28 points in the last 6:23 of the third quarter to go ahead 78-69 and led the rest of the way. During that torrid stretch, they hit 12 of 13 shots and six 3-pointers in a row, including three from Green.
“The third quarter was a prime example of when we move the ball and play as a team, we can really heat things up,” Green said. “When the Dallas Mavericks won the championship, they didn’t win it off isolations. They won it off ball movement and knocking down 3s.”
The Suns were expected to be much closer to the top pick in the 2014 draft lottery than a championship when the season began. Their 3-1 start already qualifies as a surprise after they finished with the worst record in the Western Conference (25-57) a year ago.
“We’re starting to make a little noise, but it’s only four games into the season,” Green said. “We haven’t done anything yet. We just have to keep continuing to play with the same pace and try to get better.”
The Pelicans used an 11-0 run to go up 56-46 early in the third quarter but had no answer for the Suns’ outburst a few minutes later.
Green started the streak with an open 3-pointer, the first of six for Phoenix during its big run. Bledsoe scored on a transition layup, then drilled an outside jumper. Green pulled up for another 3-pointer to tie the score at 60, and Markieff Morris sank a 3 to give the Suns a 63-62 lead.
Less than a minute later, Morris drained another one from long range. Green then made his sixth 3-pointer, tying a career high, as Phoenix went ahead 71-64.
The Suns weren’t finished. After the Pelicans closed to 73-69 on Brian Roberts’ 3-pointer, P.J. Tucker hit a 3 with 52.3 seconds left and Marcus Morris closed the quarter with a put-back layup to make the score 78-69.
“That’s the game-breaker right there,” Roberts said. “We came out and gave the first punch, and they punched back but we didn’t respond.”
Green scored 18, Markieff Morris had 17 points and twin brother Marcus Morris added 16 points for the Suns.
“Everybody just stayed aggressive,” Marcus Morris said. “That’s really all it was, a lot of energy. We just played hard.”
Eric Gordon led New Orleans with 20 points but had only six in the second half. Anthony Davis had a quiet first half before finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Jrue Holiday had nine assists but only three points on 1 of 7 shooting.
New Orleans cut the deficit to 87-85 in the fourth, but Bledsoe finished them off with three driving layups.
The Pelicans had a chance to tie in the fourth, but the Suns’ P.J. Tucker stole the ball from Gordon in traffic, leading to Bledsoe’s breakout layup that made the score 89-85. Bledsoe then split two defenders on a drive for an easy basket to pad the lead to 95-88 and made an uncontested layup for a 97-90 advantage with 1:23 left.
“I just took what the defense gave me,” Bledsoe said. “They gave me layups all night, so I was going to take every last one of them.”
The Pelicans led 28-17 at the end of the first quarter despite playing without Holiday for all but the opening 2:09 after he picked up two quick fouls and getting only two points and two rebounds from Davis.
At that point, New Orleans appeared headed for an easy night. Instead, the Pelicans committed six turnovers in a sloppy second quarter, allowing the Suns to pull within 45-41 at the half.
“We had a good first quarter, but after that we went away from the things that are necessary for us to be good,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “The second half was just totally not the way we play in practice.”
Phoenix played without guard Goran Dragic, who sprained his left ankle in the second quarter against Oklahoma City on Sunday and is listed as day-to-day.