Bledsoe's big finish helps Suns top Jazz

Jerry Brown, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- Eric Bledsoe didn't get a contract extension from the Phoenix Suns before Friday's deadline, but the day ended on a much better note.
With Goran Dragic out of the game nursing a facial contusion, Bledsoe scored 17 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and drilled the winning 3-pointer from 25 feet with 0.7 of a second left as the Suns moved to 2-0 with an 87-84 win over the Utah Jazz.
Bledsoe was 3-for-14 shooting on the night. He said he never thought twice about putting the winning shot over Utah's Gordon Hayward.
"I just kept being aggressive and my teammates and my coach (Jeff Hornacek) kept telling me my shot's going to fall and I just stuck with it. He's instilled a lot of confidence in me."
Hayward tied the game at 84 on a three-pointer with 22.5 seconds left, but Bledsoe said he never considered go for a better percentage shot before the buzzer.
"I knew he was thinking I was going to drive, so I waited for the clock to get real low and shoot it. I planned on it being a three. He was daring me to shoot it.
Miles Plumlee posted his second consecutive double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds as the Suns improved to 2-0 for the 11th time in team history but the first time since the 2009-10 season. All previous 10 Phoenix teams that started the season 2-0 made the playoffs.
The Suns lost Dragic to a right facial contusion when he collided with Tucker late in the first half. He tried to play in the third quarter but lasted just three minutes as facial swelling continued.
"We got each other. He put a knee into my side and I couldn't breathe, it was a football play." said Tucker, who finished with 12 points. "It's nice to be 2-0 after all the negative stuff we've heard coming into the season. We're going to play and teams that take us lightly are going to know we're there, I can guarantee that."
Enes Kanter had 20 points and 12 rebounds and Hayward added 18 points. Alec Burks had 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz came up one stop short.
"Both our losses came down to the wire," Hayward said. "I said this the other night, we have to be able to execute offensively down the stretch. Too many turnovers and I wouldn't say bad shots but not good shots. It's definitely fixable."
Hornacek said Dragic injury doesn't appear serious and the Suns side-stepped an off night.
"I will say we just didn't have it tonight. We didn't have the energy," he said. "They were outhustling us. Somehow our guys sucked it up in the fourth quarter and we ended up pulling it out."
The Jazz didn't have it either. They shot 36 percent, committed 20 turnovers and missed 10 free throws.
"We had a couple of turnovers that really hurt us and to give up 24 fastbreak points, especially against a team like this ... that's what they want to do," Utah coach Tryone Corbin said. "Bledsoe made a couple of big shots there and the biggest one at the end there."
Utah quickly expanded a 46-43 halftime lead to 10 when Kanter followed a John Lucas III 3-pointer with an 8-footer and layup. But with Dragic gone for the night, the Suns reeled off a 17-3 run highlighted by seven straight points from backup Dionte Christmas and capped by a 19-foot step-back jumper from Markieff Morris to give the Suns a 62-56 lead with 2:49 left.
Christmas finished with nine points in 14 minutes after sitting out opening night.
"I knew at that time we needed a spark and some energy," he said. "Couch put me in at a crucial time and he has a lot of confidence in me and I had to show I could be professional about it."
NOTES: Hornacek remains the Jazz's career leader in free throw percentage (.897) and 3-point percentage (.428) and ranks sixth in assists (1,895) and 3-pointers made (439), seventh in steals (618) and eighth in games started (436). "I think when I go out there I will just think that it is a practice," said Hornacek, who was shooting coach and assistant coach for the Jazz from 2007 to 2013. ... Hornacek and Corbin, now in his fourth season as Jazz coach, were teammates in Phoenix from 1987 to 1989 but were never teammates in Utah, where Hornacek played from 1994 to 2000 and Corbin from 1991 to 1994. "I was extremely excited for him to get the Phoenix job," Corbin said. "I am happy he was given the opportunity and he will do a good job." ... Bledsoe and Dragic became the first Suns tandem to record 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in the same game since Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw on April 6, 2006 at Seattle. ... Morris returned after serving a one-game suspension for his elbow to the face of Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka in an Oct. 22 preseason game.

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