But Friday night, Bledsoe was back, the new-look Kings were still
adjusting to trades that changed a quarter of their roster and a
frustrated Cousins was met with some determined resistance from Suns
center Miles Plumlee in a 116-107 Phoenix win at US Airways Center.
Bledsoe combined with guard Goran Dragic for 57 points on 21-for-30
shooting from the field and the Suns outscored Sacramento 19-4 to
open the third quarter.
Plumlee added 12 points, nine rebounds, a career-high four steals
and three blocks for Phoenix, putting the game away with a soaring,
one-handed dunk off forward P.J. Tucker's miss with 1:29 left to
give Phoenix a 112-103 lead.
"Plumlee outworked us; they got a lot of offensive rebounds,"
Sacramento coach Michael Malone said. "The few times they did miss
in the fourth quarter, it seemed like they got two or three
"That's two games in a row that we haven't defended anybody. When
you look at what Bledsoe (a career-high 28 points, eight assists)
and Dragic (29 points) did to us, I am embarrassed by our defense."
Plumlee's biggest play came on defense, sparking Phoenix's
third-quarter run. With the Suns down 65-63, he ran Cousins down
from behind and blocked what Cousins thought would be an uncontested
steal and dunk.
Cousins wanted a foul called but instead got into a shouting match
with the Phoenix bench. After Bledsoe tied the score with a jumper,
Cousins was called for his NBA-high seventh technical foul of the
year and Bledsoe's free throw put the Suns ahead to stay.
Cousins finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds but missed 11 of 16
shots from the field.
"The way things were going, you have to retaliate somehow," Plumlee
said. "I know I'm fast and I knew I could catch him. It was just a
matter of timing. We were getting into it a lot — my jersey was
ripped by the end of the game — but you have to play through it and
we got rewarded."
Dragic had four of Phoenix's 12 3-pointers and Bledsoe added eight
assists for the Suns, who have won a season-high four straight and
moved to 13-9 this season.
"Goran had a great start. Eric had some early turnovers, but then he
got it rolling later on in the game and made some big plays,"
Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. "It's a great tag team to have.
It's great to see these guys work together and play both of them at
the same time."
[to top of second column]
Guard Isaiah Thomas had 27 points and his new teammate,
forward Rudy Gay, added 24 in his debut with the Kings, who
acquired Gay, center Aaron Gray and forward Quincy Acy in a
trade with Toronto on Monday. But the unfamiliarity was evident
and cost the Kings at times.
"That's the thing with trades in the middle of the season — you
have to learn on the fly," Gay said. "This is a relatively young
team, so we have to pay attention to detail and get the learning
curve faster than normal."
The Suns had 12 turnovers that led to 22 Sacramento points in
the first half, a big reason why an early 13-2 lead melted away.
But Phoenix had only four turnovers after intermission and the
extra possessions came in handy.
The Kings had an 11-point lead in the second quarter and still
led 61-58 at intermission before scoring just four points in the
first seven minutes. They got as close as four points several
times in the fourth quarter, the last at 105-101 on Thomas'
driving layup with three minutes left.
But Bledsoe nailed a 3-pointer on the next Phoenix possession
and he fed forward P.J. Tucker for a layup and a 110-101 Phoenix
"We are just filling in the blanks as we go," Bledsoe said.
"Everything is not going to be perfect. Some games we struggle a
little bit. But we are going to play hard and whatever happens,
NOTES: The Suns had 20 or more fast-break points (20) for the
13th time in their first 22 games of the season. That's one more
than their total from the 2012-13 season. ... The Kings have
scored more than 100 points in five straight games, averaging
106.4 points during that span. ... Kings coach Michael Malone
had only one practice and one shootaround with his team since
the big trade with Toronto. "The only expectation I have (for
the game) is that we play hard, we compete and we bring energy
and effort," Malone said. "There are so many new faces and new
bodies. We are trying to get those guys up to speed. There are
going to be some growing pains as we go through this." ... One
improvement during Phoenix's winning streak was the half-court
offense and spacing. "If you're three feet from where you're
supposed to be, then it makes the angle of that pass more
difficult and more likely to end in a turnover," Suns coach Jeff
Hornacek said. "You have to fight to get to the spot." ... The
Suns are 5-1 this season when forwards Marcus or Markieff Morris
scores 20 points off the bench. Both rank among the top 15
league reserves in points, rebounds, field-goal percentage and
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