Suns Outlast Bobcats, Snap Four-Game Skid
The Suns still have plenty to work on, but they showed enough progress in enough key areas to make a world of difference in the end-game result.
Phoenix survived a rash of late turnovers and missed free throws that saw a 21-point lead dip to five in the final minute, escaping with a 98-91 win at Charlotte. Channing Frye had his best game since returning from heart complications that kept him out all of last season, hitting 5-of-7 from beyond the arc on his way to a game-high 20 points.
Goran Dragic added 14 points, eight assists and five rebounds for the Suns, who were missing Eric Bledsoe for the third straight game after the fourth-year guard suffered a severely bruised shin in practice on Sunday.
Phoenix's offense played its best game since the injury occurred, shooting 47 percent and hitting 10-of-23 from three-point range.
The positives were nearly countered in the latter stages, when the Suns turned the ball over five times in the final three minutes and missed five of eight free throw attempts over the last 37 seconds.
P.J. Tucker (17 points, 6-of-6 FG) helped seal the game with his third three-pointer of the night and an offensive rebound off a missed free throw.
Phoenix led by double-digits through most of the second and third quarters thanks to hot shooting from Frye and Tucker and a boost of energy from the reserves. Archie Goodwin's speed made an immediate impact, particularly on a come-from-behind block and a handful of drives where he blew by several defenders. The first-year guard finished with eight points, six rebounds, a block and a steal in a career-high 22 minutes of playing time.
Phoenix made sure to keep the Bobcats at the bottom of the league in field goal percentage, relying on fundamental interior defense to offset Charlotte's 11 offensive rebounds. The Suns held them to 41.6 percent shooting, including a woeful 3-of-14 from beyond the arc. Miles Plumlee (four points, 11 rebounds) turned in his seventh game with at least two blocks, rejecting three shots on the night.
Phoenix's next stop on its three-game road trip is Orlando on Sunday, followed by a Monday-night tilt against defending NBA champion Miami.