Bledsoe, Suns Impress in Loss to Thunder

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After an impressive 2-0 start to the 2013-14 season, the Suns suffered their first loss of the year in Oklahoma City Sunday falling 103-96 to the reenergized Thunder.

Eric Bledsoe scored 26 points and added a career-best 14 assists to go along with seven rebounds and three steals for Phoenix, which opened the season with home wins over Portland and Utah. The Suns stayed with Oklahoma City thanks to 14-of-37 3-point shooting, compared to 2 of 18 for the Thunder.

In his return from injury, Russell Westbrook finished with 21 points while Kevin Durant added 33 points and 10 rebounds.

“Our guys fought hard,” Jeff Hornacek said after the game. “That’s a good team. We had a chance to win on their home court so we are pretty happy with the effort.”

It was a back and forth game with the lead changing hands multiple times. The Suns reclaimed the lead in the fourth quarter, 79-73, after a 3-pointer by Eric Bledsoe with just under eight minutes left in the game. Oklahoma City scored the next eight points putting them up two, 81-79, with six minutes remaining.

Channing Frye tied the game at 81 before the Thunder went on a 14-6 run. Phoenix got to within three points, 95-92, before Durant put the Thunder back up by five. Westbrook and Durant went 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the final 30 seconds to seal the win.

Gerald Green had his best game in a Suns uniform with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go along with eight rebounds. Channing Frye finished with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting with five rebounds and two blocked shots. Goran Dragic scored 10 points before leaving the game in the second half after spraining his ankle on a fast break layup (which he also made).

The Suns’ effort was phenomenal, even though they didn’t come away with a win. The team was active on the defensive end of the floor forcing 15 turnovers and holding Oklahoma City to just 11 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Phoenix, however, committed 25 turnovers and shot 40 percent from the floor.

“When we attacked [the basket] we were really good,” Hornacek added. “We struggled a bit in the half-court with the turnovers. Anytime you go on the road, you want to have a chance at the end. That’s the ultimate goal, especially against a team like this. We were right there.

“That’s all you want is to have a chance.”