Dragic, Bledsoe help Suns to fifth straight in win over Wizards
The Suns moved into a tie with the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Both clubs are 43-29 with 10 games remaining.
The Suns have won seven of their last eight, coinciding with Bledsoe's return to the starting lineup after missing 2½ months because of knee surgery. He had 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and Dragic wound up with 25 points, six assists and seven rebounds.
John Wall led Washington with 29 points and six assists.
The Wizards, sixth in the Eastern Conference, lost for the fourth time in five games.
Phoenix led by as much as 75-50 in the third quarter, but Washington kept chipping away at that, getting as close as 83-79 on Wall's three-point play with a little more than 8 minutes remaining. But an 8-0 run by Phoenix that closed with Dragic's 3-pointer, then reverse layup gave the Suns some breathing room.
Washington again cut into the lead, though, and when Wall made consecutive driving layups, it was 93-90 with 1½ minutes left. Sure enough, Dragic and Bledsoe again responded. Bledsoe hit a 3 off Dragic's assist, and then Dragic fed Gerald Green, who was fouled and made two free throws.
And that was pretty much that.
With a little under 3 minutes left in the first half, Wizards shooting guard Beal walked toward Washington's locker room, resting his left hand on his right side after colliding with a Suns player.
The second-year guard, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft, is averaging 17.2 points and 3.3 assists this season, second on the team to Wall in both categories. Beal had eight points, four assists and three rebounds when he left.
The Suns led the Wizards 54-44 at halftime, led by 14 points from Dragic, and 12 from Green. Phoenix made 55 percent of its shot attempts in the first half — and somehow managed to improve that in the early part of the third quarter.
The Suns went 7 for 9 during a 17-4 run that began the second half, moving out to a 23-point lead — at 71-48, with a little more than 5 minutes elapsed — when Bledsoe made a 3-pointer, followed by a fast-break layup.
Wittman called timeout and there were some boos in the arena.
Phoenix went up by as many as 25 points, before Wall's pair of 3s capped a 17-2 run for Washington to make things more competitive. Still, the Suns were ahead 79-69 entering the fourth quarter.
Notes: Suns C Alex Len, who played college basketball at nearby Maryland, was pleased to return to the area. "As soon as I got my schedule at the beginning of the season, I looked (to see) when I am going to play here, because definitely, it's great. It's like coming back home," Len said. ... The Suns had lost their previous three games against the Wizards, including at Phoenix in January. ... Wall reached 100 3-pointers for the season for the first time in his NBA career, and he joins Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster to give Washington a franchise-high four players with at least that many.
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