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Suns blow big lead, then rally past Blazers

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PHOENIX — Up by 25 points in the second quarter and pounding the Portland Trail Blazers — minus leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge — the Phoenix Suns let up on the gas pedal as they are prone to do and almost cost themselves an important win Wednesday.

However, Phoenix guard Eric Bledsoe wouldn’t allow his career-best game to end up in a loss.

Bledsoe scored 10 of his career-high 33 points in the fourth quarter, helping to rescue the Suns from a late five-point deficit. Phoenix eventually edged Portland 118-113.

“They are a good team, and we let them back into it,” said Bledsoe, who added 10 rebounds and six assists. “I was happy that we kept our composure and finished the game strong. Early on, we lost games like this, and now they are starting to fall in our favor. I tried to be aggressive from the beginning and carry it through the whole night.”

Guard Isaiah Thomas scored 27 points for the Suns, who won their seventh straight at US Airways Center and prevailed for the 14th time in 18 games overall. The Suns (26-18) are 4-0 on a franchise-record eight-game homestand, having shot at least 50 percent from the field in all four wins. Even so, Phoenix turned a laugher into high drama Wednesday.

“We need to stop doing that,” said guard Goran Dragic, who scored 16 points and combined with Bledsoe and Thomas for 76 of Phoenix’s 118 points. “You get up (25) and they come back to take the lead and they had some open shots they didn’t hit. It’s a huge win for us, but we were lucky.”

Without Aldridge, who will have an MRI on his injured left hand Thursday, Portland could do little right early. Forward Nicolas Batum scored 27 points, and guards Damian Lillard and Wes Matthews had 22 each for the Blazers.

Portland (31-12) trailed 58-33 in the second quarter, but it rallied and led 110-105 after Batum’s sixth 3-pointer of the night with 2:20 left.

As occurred in a 102-98 loss at Memphis on Saturday, the Blazers saw a big comeback fall short, and they lost for the fourth time in five games.

Thomas hit a clutch 3-pointer before Bledsoe regained the lead for Phoenix at 111-110 on a three-point play with 1:38 left. Forward Thomas Robinson answered for Portland on a jumper with 1:22 left, but forward Markieff Morris put the Suns up to stay on a 14-footer with 1:02 left.

The Blazers had a chance to tie down 116-113 with 10.9 seconds left, but Lillard stepped out of bounds reaching for guard Steve Blake’s inbounds pass. It was the only Portland turnover of the fourth quarter.

Bledsoe iced the game with two free throws.

“We did a great job fighting back and giving ourselves a chance down the stretch,” said Lillard, who missed 16 of 22 shots and had five turnovers but came on strong late. “It’s the second in our last few games we came back but came up short because we didn’t play well enough in the first half.

“I don’t think we should be satisfied with a moral victory. I’m not with that.”

The Blazers lost for the seventh straight time in Phoenix and fell for the ninth time in 12 meetings with the Suns overall. This one looked like an easy Phoenix win early.

Portland led 29-26 after an alley-oop dunk by Robinson off a Lillard feed with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

Phoenix scored the final 14 points of the quarter, with Thomas scoring nine of them. His 13-footer with 2.9 seconds left gave the Suns a 40-29 lead after one quarter. The 40 points tied a Suns season high for a quarter and were the most allowed in any quarter by Portland this season.

The second quarter didn’t start any better for the visitors. The Suns outscored the Blazers 18-4 over the first 6:50 with a fastbreak layup by forward Marcus Morris capping the 32-4 run and giving Phoenix a 58-33 lead.

“We were tied 20-20 after six minutes, but we were playing at their pace and we know we can’t outscore that team,” Batum said. “We tried to play that game and we went down by 25.”

Portland began to chip away before halftime, scoring the final nine points of the quarter and moving within 66-52 on two Lillard free throws with 1.9 seconds left.

Portland got as close as 10 in the third quarter and opened the fourth quarter with a 12-2 run, but the Suns had one final burst left in them.

NOTES: Initial MRI results on Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge’s left hand were inconclusive, according to coach Terry Stotts. A second MRI is scheduled for Thursday. X-rays taken for a fracture after the injury occurred Monday night were negative. The concern now would be ligament or tendon damage. … The three point-guard combo of Eric Beldsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas combined for 65 points on 65.8 percent shooting from the field (25 of 38) in Monday’s 115-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns are 8-0 this season when each player scores at least 15 points in the same game. All three average at least 15 points per game this season (Bledsoe 16.4, Dragic 17.0 and Thomas 14.6). The last team that had three players 6-foot-3 or shorter average at least 10 points per game was the 1988-89 Detroit Pistons, who won a championship with Isaiah Thomas (18.2), Joe Dumars (17.2) and Vinnie Johnson (13.8) leading the way.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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