PHOENIX — One day after the Phoenix Suns and point guard Eric Bledsoe couldn’t come to terms on a contract extension, the first-year starter showed why he was willing to take the risk.
After scoring one point on 0-of-6 shooting and 0-of-3 from behind the arc in the first three quarters, Bledsoe exploded for 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a game-winning three-pointer with less than one second left, to lift Phoenix to an 87-84 victory over the Jazz. He was 4-of-9 overall, 2-of-4 for from behind the arc and 7-of-8 at the free throw line in the final 12 minutes.
Suns guard Dionte Christmas made his NBA debut and had a significant impact on the game. Christmas entered for Goran Dragic at the 8:53 mark in the third quarter with the Suns down 53-45. He stayed in the game until the 10:59 mark of the fourth with Phoenix up 65-62. The Temple product contributed nine points and three rebounds during a Phoenix 20-9 run.
P.J. Tucker continued to look comfortable shooting corner threes, creating the necessary spacing for Phoenix to run effective pick-and-rolls. Tucker was 2-of-4 from deep after going 2-of-2 against Portland on opening night.
The bench contributed 35 points after only tallying 12 in the season-opening win against the Blazers.
Phoenix defended the three well for a second straight game, holding Utah to 5-of-17 from long range.
The Suns allowed 22 offensive rebounds to the Jazz, which Phoenix was able to partially cancel out by winning the turnover battle by four and grabbing 16 offensive boards of their own.
Phoenix shot 37.3% percent from the field and hit only 6-of-22 three point attempts.
Stat of the Game
Phoenix improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2009-2010. The Suns started that season 4-0.
Miles Plumlee is the eighth player in Suns history to notch consecutive double-doubles in his first two games with the organization.
He Said It
“I knew that he was playing me to drive so I was going to wait until the clock got really low to shoot it, but I already had it in my mind that I was going to shoot it,” Bledsoe said about his game-winning shot. “I had planned on it being a three. He dared me to shoot and I knew I was going to shoot.”
Apparently, Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek wasn’t informed of Bledsoe’s plan.
“It wasn’t for him to shoot a three,” Hornacek said. “I was hoping he would attack, but I think Gordon (Hayward) with his length was trying to play off a little bit so that he didn’t drive by him. I guess, Eric, once he realize that, thought his shot would probably be one where if he doesn’t close the gap I should just shoot and it went right in.”
Goran Dragic suffered a facial laceration colliding with Tucker at the 1:40 mark in the second quarter. Dragic started the second half, but was pulled after just over three minutes. He did not return to the game.
The Suns (2-0) head away from US Airways Center for the first time this season beginning a three-game road trip Sunday against the Thunder (1-1). The trip continues to New Orleans on Tuesday and San Antonio on Wednesday. Sunday’s game begins at 5:00 p.m on Arizona Sports 620 with Suns Warmup at 4:30 p.m.