Bledsoe gets hot, fuels Suns
HOUSTON — The Phoenix Suns have been looking for Eric Bledsoe to attack more as they try to make a late push for a playoff spot.
Bledsoe answered that call Saturday night, scoring a career-high 34 points to help the Suns withstand a fourth-quarter charge by the Houston Rockets in a 117-102 victory.
The win left Phoenix 2 1/2 games out of eighth place in the Western Conference with 12 remaining.
"I told him, he's got to be more aggressive for us if we are going to make this playoff push," teammate P.J. Tucker said. "We need him to be aggressive on offense and defense because that pushes our team and it gets everybody else open."
Bledsoe agreed and said he's made a conscious effort to do it.
"At the end of the day it's on me because I have the ball the whole game ... and when I play a little passive, that's when I get turnovers," Bledsoe said. "When I'm aggressive and going to the rim, I find guys and I play without thinking a lot."
Bledsoe scored 23 by halftime and surpassed his previous career best of 33 points, set earlier this season, on a free throw with about a minute remaining.
Phoenix led by 15 early in the fourth quarter when Houston used a 14-4 run, with five points from Josh Smith, to cut it to 105-100 with 5 minutes left. The Suns missed seven shots and turned it over three times as their big lead dwindled.
Neither team had scored for about 2 1/2 minutes when Tucker made a 3-pointer, starting a 12-0 spurt by the Suns that pushed their lead to 117-100 and secured the victory.
Donatas Motiejunas had 18 points for Houston, and James Harden added 16 after scoring a career-high 50 in Thursday's win over Denver.
"They gave us a chance, but we got so many empty possessions on the offensive end where we couldn't turn corners or make plays," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "They punched us around on the boards and we couldn't keep them off the boards. We just didn't play very well."
Phoenix's victory snapped a three-game winning streak for Houston and allowed the Suns to avoid a season sweep by the Rockets.
NETS 123, PACERS 111: At Indianapolis, Brook Lopez had 26 points and four blocked shots to lead Brooklyn over slumping Indiana.
Bojan Bogdanovic added 21 points and five rebounds off the bench, and Deron Williams scored 17 for the Nets, who have won four of five.
George Hill had 18 points and nine assists for the Pacers (30-39), who lost their fifth straight.
Brooklyn pulled away for good when Joe Johnson converted a three-point play and Bogdanovic made a 3-pointer to put the Nets ahead 109-100 with 4 minutes remaining.
A win for the Pacers would have put them in sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Instead, the Nets (29-39) closed the gap in a crowded race for the final playoff spot.
PISTONS 107, BULLS 91: At Auburn Hills, Mich., Reggie Jackson had 22 points, including 17 in the third quarter, and Detroit came back from a 19-point deficit to beat Chicago.
The Pistons trailed 72-53 with 7 minutes left in the third quarter, but got a combined 27 points and 13 assists from Jackson and fellow point guard Spencer Dinwiddie in the second half.
Detroit had already taken an 80-79 lead by the start of the fourth. In all, the Pistons outscored the Bulls 47-11 in a 16-minute stretch spanning the final two quarters.
Pau Gasol had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago.
WARRIORS 106, JAZZ 91: At Oakland, Calif., Stephen Curry bounced back from his worst shooting performance of the season to score 24 points, Leandro Barbosa added a season-high 19 off the bench and Golden State pulled away late to beat Utah.
One day after shooting 4 of 17 in a win over New Orleans, Curry went 8 of 18 from the floor against a Utah defense that had been the NBA's stingiest over the past three weeks.
Draymond Green added 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Warriors (56-13), who have the best record in the NBA.
Derrick Favors had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz. Utah lost for only the fourth time since the All-Star break.