PHOENIX — Phoenix guard Goran Dragic showed why he would be a capable Western Conference All-Star injury replacement in the Suns’ 105-95 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night.
Dragic scored 15 of the Suns’ first 23 points to get the Suns off and running. He finished with 25 points on 10-for-10 shooting from the field.
Dragic has a four-game streak of scoring 20-plus points while shooting more than 50 percent from the floor and finishing with at least five assists. The last Suns player to accomplish the feat in four straight games was Steve Nash from Feb. 24-March 6, 2009.
Dragic, asked if the Suns deserve an all atar considering they are playing at a 50-win pace, said, “I think so, yes, especially with this record. I was sad, full of emotion, when I found out (he wasn’t picked as a reserve). We still have a small chance … (but) the playoffs are more important.”
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, while acknowledging he wouldn’t mind having his star guard rest during the break, said, “Obviously, it’s a great award. I hope he gets a chance.”
The Suns (29-18) won their fifth straight, tying a season high set from Dec. 4-15.
“They’re not resting on what they’ve done so far,” Hornacek said of his players. “They want to do better.”
Suns forward Marcus Morris continued his sizzling play of late. Morris, who has been overshadowed by twin brother Markieff this season, made 5 of 9 shots from the field for 15 points.
The Bobcats dropped to 21-28.
“You can’t have many nights like that,” coach Steve Clifford said, adding his team “just didn’t try.”
“We have no effort to start the game against a team that , if you’re not ready to play and defend, you have no chance against them.
“We weren’t ready to start the game.”
Bobcats center Al Jefferson, who had set franchise records with three straight 30-plus and 11 straight 20-plus games, settled for 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting from the field.
“We wanted to just keep throwing guys at him,” Hornacek said.
Jefferson said, “We didn’t have the energy that we needed.
“We can sit here and make up all types of excuses on why we didn’t play well, but for us to try and be a playoff team…we can’t have that type of effort at all.”
Reserve Anthony Tolliver led the Bobcats with 14 points.
The Suns out-rebounded the Bobcats 51-34.
The Suns led by as many as 27 points at 90-63 to start the fourth quarter. The 10-point final margin was the closest the Bobcats came.
Phoenix is now 13-10 without guard Eric Bledsoe, who is out while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. The Suns, who were 16-8 with Bledsoe, hope that he can return sometime after the All-Star break.
The Suns swept the season series against the Bobcats for the seventh time in 10 seasons.
The score was tied 16-16 midway through the first quarter before Dragic scored seven straight on free throws, a pull-up jumper and a fast-break layup.
The Bobcats were within striking distance late in the first half. With the score 50-41, the Suns reeled off a 9-0 run to end the half and the Bobcats never threatened again. The Suns led by as many as 27 points, 90-63, to start the final quarter.
NOTES: The Suns have never swept a season series from the team that ends up as the No. 1 seed from the East. They just finished a 2-0 sweep of the Pacers. … Bobcats C Al Jefferson has been on a tear. Coming into the game, he had franchise-record streaks of scoring 30-plus in three straight and 20-plus in 11 straight. Jefferson burned the Suns in the past when playing for Minnesota and Utah. … Bobcats coach Steve Clifford on the Suns: “They remind me in many ways of the teams we had in Orlando. They are so quick, so skilled (and) have the one thing that we didn’t have, guys who can go off the dribble. They spread you out with their shooting but then they beat you going at matchups with just a bunch of guys who can take their guys one-on-one.”… Bobcats G Kemba Walker missed his seventh straight game with a sprained ankle. … Injured Suns G Eric Bledsoe was expected to be examined again on Saturday night. Bledsoe, who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, is lifting weights and shooting free throws. The Suns hope he will play again sometime after the All-Star break.
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