PHOENIX — Guard Eric Bledsoe scored eight of his team-high 23 points in the final 3:21 and backcourt mate Goran Dragic added 20 as the Phoenix Suns sent the Detroit Pistons to their 12th straight road loss, 98-92 on Friday.
The Pistons missed 16 of 26 free throws — forward Josh Smith went 0-for-8 — but they were still tied at 86 after a Smith 19-footer with 4:43 left. The Suns missed nine free throws as well but made them down the stretch to nail down the win.
Bledsoe then hit his only 3-pointer of the night to give the Suns the lead for good and he added six straight points as Phoenix pulled to within a half-game of the Memphis Grizzlies, who lost to Miami on Friday, for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Forward Markieff Morris scored 16 points and guard Gerald Green had 12 off the bench for the Suns, who won their 40th game of the year after winning just 25 all of last season.
Rodney Stuckey scored 23 points off the bench for the Pistons, whose last win away from home came more than two months ago (Jan. 18 at Washington). The Pistons lost four in a row and 14 of 17 overall.
Forward Greg Monroe had 16 points and Smith added 15 for Detroit, who has not lost 12 straight road games for 21 years (Jan. 5-March 5, 1993). Center Andre Drummond added 13 points and 16 rebounds and now has 46 double-doubles this season, second in the NBA to Minnesota’s Kevin Love.
The Suns struggled through three quarters of Wednesday’s win over the Orlando Magic and Friday was more of the same. Neither team led by more than six points in the first half as the Pistons nullified five Phoenix 3-pointers with eight offensive rebounds and 30 of their 50 points in the paint.
The Suns used 12 first-quarter points from Dragic to build a pair of six-point leads. But the Pistons took a 27-26 lead into the second quarter and used 12 first-half points from Stuckey and four assists from guard Will Bynum to extend their lead to five.
Phoenix answered with a 14-4 run, with a Markieff Morris jumper giving the Suns a 40-35 lead with 6:45 left. The Pistons scored the final four points of the half, with Drummond following an alley-oop dunk with a put-back to cut the lead to 51-50 at the break.
The Suns scored the first seven points of the third quarter but the Pistons answered with a 13-2 run and trailed by two, 73-71, entering the fourth quarter.
NOTES: The Pistons have not dropped 12 in a row away from home since Jan. 5-March 5, 1993. … Phoenix F Markieff Morris (13.7 points) and Detroit G Rodney Stuckey (13.3) are two of the top three bench scorers in the NBA. … Suns coach Jeff Hornacek has been pleased with the development of rookie C Alex Len and sees him even adding an outside shot to his inside game. “I envision a few years down the road he’s going to be able to shoot 3-pointers,” Hornacek said. “That guy’s got a good touch. He’s going to continue to get better and better.” … Suns G Goran Dragic is shooting 51 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from 3-point range. Kevin Durant (.549 FG, .403 3-pointer) is the only other 50/40 player in the league to this point. Only Steve Nash (six times) and Hornacek (three times) have put up those numbers during an entire season. … In their previous five straight losses at Phoenix, the Pistons averaged just 88.4 points.
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