Suns 104, Pelicans 98
NEW ORLEANS - Guard Eric Bledsoe scored a game-high 25 points, driving into the lane for two critical layups in the final 1:52, and guard Gerald Green exploded for 12 of his 18 points in the third quarter to lift the Phoenix Suns to a 104-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night at the New Orleans Arena.
The Suns (3-1) blew open the game with a 37-24 third quarter, turning a 45-41 halftime deficit into a 78-69 lead. They did it by nailing 7-of-10 3-point attempts. Green was 4-of-5 from behind the arc, and forwards Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker each had a long-range jumper.
The Suns trailed 60-50 but outscored the Pelican 28-9 in the final 6:24 of the third quarter.
New Orleans (1-3) closed the deficit to five points five times in the fourth quarter, and then guard Anthony Morrow made a 3-pointer from the left wing to cut the deficit to 87-85 with 5:24 left.
But Tucker picked New Orleans guard Eric Gordon's pocket on the Pelicans' next possession and fed Bledsoe for a layup. After guard Jrue Holiday missed a quick jumper, Marcus Morris was fouled on a drive to the basket and made two free throws. Tucker added a layup and the Suns led 93-85 with 2:25 left.
Markieff Morris had 17 points and Marcus Morris added 16 for Phoenix. The Pelicans were led by Gordon with 20 points, center Anthony Davis with 17 points and 11 rebounds and guard Brian Roberts with 17 points.
The Pelicans led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter as Gordon broke down the Suns' defense with hard drives to the basket en route to 12 points. Roberts' 3-pointer from the right wing on a feed from guard Tyreke Evans put New Orleans on top, 27-13, before Markieff Morris closed the period with a dunk and an 18-foot jumper to close the deficit to 28-17.
The Suns made four 3-pointers in a 24-17 second quarter to chip away at the Pelicans lead. After Gordon stripped Green in the lane and fed Evans for a layup, New Orleans led 45-34. But Phoenix closed the quarter with a 7-0 run - with two free throws and a baby hook by forward Miles Plumlee and a 3-pointer by Green - to close the gap to 45-41 at halftime.
The Pelicans went scoreless on their final seven possessions of the half.
NOTES: Suns G Goran Dragic, who had 26 points and nine assists in the season opener, sprained his left ankle in a 103-96 road loss to Oklahoma City on Sunday and missed Tuesday night's game. Coach Jeff Hornacek said he probably would miss Wednesday night's game at San Antonio but possibly return Friday against Denver. ... While Hornacek was thrilled with G Eric Bledsoe's scoring (22.0 ppg), assists (8.7 apg) and rebounding (6.3 rpg), he wasn't happy with his 5.7 turnovers per game. "We put the ball in his hands a lot," Hornacek said. ... Pelicans coach Monty Williams got a bit testy with his players following a 20-point loss at Orlando on Nov. 1, which dropped New Orleans to 0-2, and he stepped up the intensity in practice before the Pelicans' 105-84 victory over Charlotte the next night. "We have a young team we're developing, and there's a responsibility with that," he said. "Guys have to understand that that's how we're going to do things here as long as I have the job. I never thought I'd see another team outwork us the way Orlando did." ... Williams said he's not concerned about second-year F Anthony Davis throwing his body around the court. "It's just part of the game," Williams said. "You can't take away his aggressive play."