Friday, April 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Dragic, Bledsoe lead Suns past Kings

Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic

Sacramento Kings' Isaiah Thomas, left, drives past Phoenix Suns' Goran Dragic (1), of Slovenia, during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — That dynamic double point guard backcourt of the Phoenix Suns might have had its best game yet.

Goran Dragic scored 29 points, Eric Bledsoe had a career-high 28 and the Suns extended their season-high winning streak to four games by beating the Sacramento Kings 116-107 on Friday night.

“Every game is better,” Dragic said. “I know what he’s going to do, he knows what I’m going to do. We’ve got a good feeling about each other and that’s really tough for opponents.”

Suns coach Jeff Hornacek called it “a great tag team.”

“Both of those guys trust each other,” Hornacek said. “If they don’t really have a play and the other guy is in the view, he can get it to him and make a play.”

The Suns’ Miles Plumlee had two crucial blocks of DeMarcus Cousins’ shots and had four emphatic fourth-quarter dunks for 12 points.

“I don’t know if the guys in the league know if he can jump,” Dragic said of Plumlee, “but we know.”

Isaiah Thomas scored 29 for Sacramento. Rudy Gay added 22 in his first game for the Kings since being acquired this week in a trade with Toronto. Cousins had 15 points and 15 rebounds but shot just 5 of 15 and wouldn’t talk to reporters afterward.

It was a testy night for the officials, who called five technical fouls.

Gay was on a losing team in Phoenix for the second time in eight days. Toronto lost to the Suns a week earlier.

“That’s the thing with trades in the middle of the season,” he said. “You have to learn on the fly.”

Sacramento coach Michael Malone lamented his team’s lack of defense.

“That is two games in a row where we haven’t defended anybody,” he said. “You look at Bledsoe and Dragic, what they did to us tonight, I am embarrassed by our defense right now. … I can’t go out there and guard. I wish I could.”

Phoenix took the lead for good with a 14-0 third-quarter run that started after Plumlee chased down Cousins from behind on a fast break and blocked the layup try hard off the glass.

“I know I’m really fast, I knew I could catch him,” Plumlee said. “It’s just a matter of timing it up, and it worked out.”

It was a play that drove the energy level in the building up a notch.

“When a player makes a hustle play, it definitely gets the crowd into it, and everybody else gets motivated even more,” said Bledsoe, who had eight assists. “Just for Miles to hustle back, it means a lot to the team.”

Bledsoe missed the first two games of the season against the Kings, and Sacramento won both.

Dragic’s 3-pointer punctuated the 14-0 outburst and Phoenix led 77-65 with 6:13 to play in the third quarter. Dragic and Bledsoe scored five apiece in the run.

But the Kings responded with a 12-4 spurt and, after Thomas’ driving layup with 2 seconds to play, trailed 85-82 entering the fourth quarter.

Sacramento never got closer than that again. Gerald Green and Channing Frye sank 3s, then Plumlee blocked Cousins again, leading to Bledsoe’s layup that boosted it to 101-91 with 6:43 remaining. The Kings cut it to 105-101 on Thomas’ driving layup with 3:11 to go, but Bledsoe hit a 3-pointer, P.J. Tucker scored inside, then Plumlee’s final big dunk made it 112-103 with 1:29 to play.

The Kings led by as many as 11 before a 14-3 Suns spurt put Phoenix ahead 49-47 on Dragic’s two free throws with 4:07 to go in the second quarter. Sacramento ran off nine consecutive points to go up 58-49 on Thomas’ third 3-pointer of the night 1:43 before the break.

Frye’s 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds to play cut Sacramento’s lead to 61-58 at the half.

Notes: Bledsoe’s previous career high was 27 last Feb. 6 for the Los Angeles Clippers at Orlando. … Dragic just missed getting the first consecutive 30-point games of his career. He has three 30-point games this season after previously getting three in his entire career…. Technicals were called against Tucker, Hornacek and Marcus Morris of the Suns, and Jason Thompson and Cousins of the Kings. … Gay has reached double figures in 18 of 19 games this season.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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