Guard Goran Dragic scored 25 points and backcourt partner Eric
Bledsoe had 23 as the Suns defeated the Washington Wizards 99-93 on
Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.
Swingman Gerald Green had 18 points for the Suns (43-29), who made
14 of 28 3-point attempts. Phoenix won for the sixth time in seven
games at Washington and concluded a three-game road sweep despite
nearly blowing a 25-point lead.
The victory moved Phoenix into a tie with the Dallas Mavericks for
the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Both
teams are percentage points behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who played
at the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
"You know, we don't care what other people think," said Dragic, who
made 11 of 17 shots including three 3-pointers. "Before the season
they were saying we're going to win 15 games."
Bledsoe also hit three from beyond the arc with his final one coming
moments after his former University of Kentucky teammate, guard John
Wall, made a layup to pull the Wizards within 93-90 with 1:30
The Suns have won 13 games just since the mid-February All-Star
"I think we have a good team, great chemistry, everybody is liking
each other and you can see that on the floor," Dragic said. "We've
still got 10 games so we still have some tough ones to play, but why
not. I think we have a good team to make the playoffs."
The Wizards have similar thoughts about their team, though recent
results suggest otherwise.
Wall scored 29 points and center Marcin Gortat, traded by Phoenix to
Washington before the season opened, had 17 for the Wizards (36-35).
The Wizards returned home after 1-3 road swing.
"Embarrassing, I'll put it this way," Gortat said. "Nobody expected
we're going to play like that. We just didn't perform."
Washington remains in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The
loss, combined with Charlotte's 116-11 overtime victory over the
Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, dropped the Wizards' lead to 1 1/2 games
over the Bobcats.
The long-range attack started in the first half as the Suns sank 8
of 14 attempts from beyond the arc for a 54-44 lead, closing the
second quarter on a 12-3 run. The halftime break didn't slow
momentum as the Suns opened the third quarter by outscoring
Washington 21-6 for a 75-50 advantage with 5:27 remaining.
"Just not playing defense. That's the key with us," Wall said of the
Wizards' recent slide. "If you're not playing defense, you can't
Washington countered with a 17-2 run, entered the fourth down 10
points and trailed 83-79 with 8:16 remaining following Wall's
three-point play. After Phoenix pushed the lead back to 12 points,
Wall tallied eight straight for Washington before the crowd of
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Green made 3 of 4 free throws following Bledsoe's 3-pointers.
Phoenix hit 11 of 12 free throws while Washington finished 13 of 21.
Throughout the frantic final quarter, the youthful Suns avoided
showing any nerves. They also snapped a three-game losing streak to
Washington and split the season series.
"Everybody dialed in the last couple minutes and came up with some
stops and got some good rebounds, played great defense — and we
just made crazy shots," Bledsoe said.
Issues for Washington during its winning but choppy season have
cropped again during its recent skid.
Earlier this season, veteran forward Al Harrington said the Wizards
showed some mental weakness at times. Asked if he concurred, Gortat
said, "Yeah, I'll stay behind his words. Sometimes we show that
mentally we are weak and just not competing. That's it."
Wizards guard Bradley Beal suffered a right hip pointer late in the
second quarter after landing on the court while diving for the ball.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft went to the locker room and
did not start the second half. He returned midway through the third
quarter and finished with eight points.
Shortly before Beal exited, the Suns started to pull away. Green
scored 12 in the second quarter.
NOTES: G Eric Bledsoe had seven assists along with seven of
Phoenix's 19 turnovers. ... Washington won the first meeting 101-95
at Phoenix on Jan. 24. ... Suns rookie C Alex Len played his first
game as a professional in Washington, just a few miles from where he
starred at the University of Maryland. ... Over his previous 10
games, Wizards G John Wall averaged 9.2 assists, but an NBA-worst
4.9 turnovers. ... Phoenix returns home to face the New York Knicks
on Friday. Only four of the Suns' final 10 are at home. ...
Washington hosts the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers on
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