Posted: Monday, March 24th 2014 at 11:01pm
Bledsoe leads Suns past Hawks 102-95
By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Eric Bledsoe scored 20 points to lead five Phoenix players in double figures and the Suns won their fourth in a row, beating the Atlanta Hawks 102-95 on Monday night to pull even with Dallas for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Suns buried the Hawks from 3-point range, knocking down 12 of 24 beyond the arc. Bledsoe made all three of his long-range attempts, while Channing Frye was 4-of-9 to account for the bulk of his 18 points. Goran Dragic had 19 points, Markieff Morris 17 and Gerald Green 13.
Atlanta, trying to hold the eighth spot in the East, lost its third in a row after a season-high five-game winning streak. Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll led the Hawks with 19 points apiece.
With the score tied at 59, Phoenix took control with a 14-4 run near the end of the third quarter. Bledsoe got it started with a drive to the basket, and Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer picked up a technical foul for griping about the officiating. Bledsoe made the free throw, turning it into a three-point play.
Frye took over from there, swishing three straight jumpers - including a 3-pointer - sandwiched around Dragic swiping an Atlanta pass and driving for a layup. The Suns closed the half on a Dragic's end-to-end drive, the Slovenian guard banking in the shot with 1.5 seconds left for a 77-68 lead heading to the fourth.
The Hawks got as close as four in the closing period, but Phoenix sealed the victory on back-to-back 3s by Markieff Morris and Bledsoe, stretching the lead to 98-86 with 2 1/2 minutes left.
The teams were coming off contrasting performances on the road the previous day.
The Suns overcame a 22-point deficit at Minnesota to win 127-120, their biggest comeback of the season. Atlanta, on the other hand, squandered an 11-point lead going to the fourth quarter at Toronto. The Raptors outscored the Hawks 36-15 the rest of the way.
Atlanta faded again at home.
The Suns jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead, setting the tone with its 3-point shooting. Dragic, Frye and Eric Bledsoe hit three straight from outside the stripe, while the Hawks missed their first six shots.
But Atlanta tightened up defensively and began hitting some shots, tying the game at 23 by late in the opening period. The Hawks were up 45-42 at halftime.
NOTES: The Hawks played their third straight game without G Kyle Korver, who is hampered by back spasms. Coach Mike Budenholzer said there's no timetable for Korver's return. ... Shelvin Mack started in place of Korver. ... P.J. Tucker led the Suns with 11 rebounds. Phoenix held a 39-32 edge on the boards. ... Phoenix swept the season series 2-0.
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