Bledsoe's big 4th quarter leads Suns past Pistons

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 22, 2014 at 12:36 am •  Published: March 22, 2014
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PHOENIX (AP) — Eric Bledsoe is getting close to his old self, and that's great news for the Phoenix Suns in their stretch run to try to make the playoffs.

The Suns' high-energy point guard scored 15 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and Phoenix pulled out a 98-92 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

"No question, I think I had a better feel today," Bledsoe said. "Instead of coming out and just forcing stuff, I kind of played with a little more rhythm. "

Goran Dragic added 20 points, 15 in the first half, and Markieff Morris scored 16 for the Suns.

Rodney Stuckey scored 23 and Andre Drummond had 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Pistons in their fourth overall loss and 12th straight on the road.

The victory pulled the Suns within a half-game of Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, although the Grizzlies hold the tiebreaker.

Bledsoe, in his biggest game since returning from knee surgery March 12, made a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to put the Suns ahead for good 89-86 with 3:22 to play.

"I'm good for one a game," he joked. "I think I was 0 for 4 before that."

Detroit was just 10 of 26 at the foul line, to Phoenix's 24 of 35.

"I thought there were two major factors," Pistons coach John Loyer said. "One, we turned the ball over 19 times for a team that averages 12 turnovers — and I think the majority of them were unforced. Then you go 10 for 26 from the line."

Detroit shoots 67 percent from the foul line for the season.

Phoenix outscored Detroit 12-6 over the final 3:22 in a grind-it-out victory that runs contrary to the Suns' preferred style.

"I don't think it every really got into the up-tempo that we want," Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. "I told the guys a couple of games ago that the rest of the season you're going to have to scrap and claw and fight for every play, every possession to have a chance of getting in these playoffs. That's kind of how tonight's game went."