Eric Bledsoe returns as Phoenix Suns pound Utah Jazz
Phoenix point guard Eric Bledsoe returned from a six-game absence Friday night, when the Suns rolled to an easy 112-101 win over Utah at EnergySolutions Arena.
Bledsoe, who had been sidelined with a bruised shin, finished with 19 points and six assists in 28 minutes as surprising Phoenix improved its record to 9-7.
Coach Jeff Hornacek was happy with Bledsoe's performance, considering it came at high-altitude Utah.
"For him being off almost two weeks, we weren't sure what we would get," Hornacek said. "I told him I'd play him in small doses and, when he got tired, I'd take him out. [But] he looked pretty good out there. â¦
"I just kept looking at him and saying, 'Are you OK? Are you OK?' And he said, 'Yeah, let me go a couple of more minutes.' So we let him continue."
Bledsoe's most important stretch came in the fourth quarter, when the Jazz cut the Suns' 20-point lead to 99-87 with 7:30 remaining. He scored to stop Utah's momentum and, one possession later, was fouled on a hard drive to the basket.
Bledsoe's two free throws made it 103-89, ending the Jazz's rally.
"I thought we played very well for three quarters," Hornacek said. "We moved the ball and made shots."
Phoenix, playing its fourth game in six nights, started slowly. Utah made its first four shots and took an early 9-0 lead before the Suns got going.
"Coach told us to push the tempo and try to get some easy baskets try to get everyone involved," said Goran Dragic, who finished with 19 points and nine assists.
"We didn't play good defense and they took advantage of it. [But] we came back and played hard. We scored and defended."
Markieff Morris came off the bench and led the Suns with 23 points. He went 8 for 13 from the field.
"My team did a great job of getting me the ball," Morris said. "I got a lot of easy shots. [The Jazz] do a great job of packing the paint. So we ran a lot of screen-and-rolls and got open shots."