Without their leading scorer from a season ago, Goran Dragic (left ankle), the Phoenix Suns were posed one simple question heading into Tuesday night’s contest with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Where was the offense going to come from?
Simple as it may be, Phoenix struggled to answer the question out of the gates, scoring a season-low 17 first quarter points en route to a 45-41 halftime deficit.
In the third quarter, however, Jeff Hornacek’s squad discovered its identity: Eric Bledsoe penetrating, Miles Plumlee rebounding and Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris draining jumpers from the perimeter.
The Suns hit seven three-point shots and reeled off a 28-9 run over the final seven minutes and 30 seconds of the third frame and never looked back.
Phoenix held off a spirited rally by New Orleans in the fourth quarter and took the contest by a final of 104-98.
The win marked the Suns’ first away from U.S. Airways Center in 2013-14.
Playing almost exclusively at point guard, Eric Bledsoe dominated his head-to-head battle with former All-Star Jrue Holiday.
The first-year Sun had 25 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals on the night and limited Holiday to a season-low three points on 1-of-7 shooting.
In the victory, the Morris twins also had their best performances on the season. The duo combined for 33 points and 14 rebounds off the pine.
Channing Frye was largely ineffective at both ends of the floor. The veteran forward scored four points on 2-of-6 shooting and was dominated on the block by Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. The former No. 1 overall pick recorded his third double-double — 17 points and 11 rebounds — of 2013-14.
Stat of the Game
According to Suns VP of Communications Julie Fie, Eric Bledsoe’s shooting performance (10-of-12) was the most efficient by any NBA player with at least 12 shot attempts in a game this season.
He Said It
“No, there wasn’t really a difference. The only difference was that I was going to have a tougher defensive assignment. Eric Gordon got hot early on, and I got mad. I knew that if I played harder on the defensive end my offense would come. And that’s what happened.” — Gerald Green on the difference between starting and coming off the bench
Green, who was making his first start of the season, hit six of his 10 attempts from three-point range. In his last two contests, Green is shooting 55 percent from distance.
Playing extended minutes due to Dragic’s injury, Ish Smith dished out eight assists, including four in the final two minutes and 36 seconds of the third quarter.
The Suns (3-1) close out their three-game road swing in the Lone Star State, when they take on the San Antonio Spurs (3-1). Wednesday’s game against the reigning champions of the Western Conference tips off at 6:00 p.m on Arizona Sports 620.