Three ugly quarters didn’t get Eric Bledsoe down. And his fourth quarter was a beauty.
Bledsoe, who missed 10 of his first 11 shots, scored the final 14 points for Phoenix, topping it off with a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds to play to give the Suns an 87-84 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
Phoenix improved to 2-0 under new coach and ex-Jazz player and assistant coach Jeff Hornacek.
Gordon Hayward’s 3-pointer tied it for Utah at 84 with 22.9 seconds to play.
Bledsoe, 4 of 15 from the field, finished with 18 points for the Suns, 17 in the fourth quarter. Miles Plumlee added 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Enes Kanter scored 20 points and Hayward had 18 points for Utah.
The Suns’ Goran Dragic played 3 minutes in the third quarter then left because of a right face contusion he sustained in a nasty collision with teammate Markieff Morris late in the first half.
Dragic wanted to play but Hornacek pulled him.
”He just didn’t look right,” Hornacek said.
Bledsoe made one of two free throws with 30.4 seconds to play, making it 84-81 and giving Utah a chance to tie.
The Jazz did just that when Hayward broke free for the 3-pointer.
Bledsoe calmly dribbled down the clock then pulled up for his game-winning 3 from the top of the key.
”I knew that he was playing me to drive so I was going to wait until the clock got really low to shoot it,” Bledsoe said. ”… He was daring me to shoot it so you know I was going to shoot it.”
Hayward confirmed he was worried about Bledsoe driving to the basket.
”I tried to sag off him just a tad but he is a little quicker than I am,” Hayward said. ”He kind of shown he would drive to the basket the whole game but he made a nice pull-up there. It was a tough shot.”
The Jazz were called for an out-of-bounds violation on their desperation attempt at the finish.
Utah coach Tyrone Corbin pointed to his team’s 20 turnovers and Phoenix’s 24 fast-break points.
”And we missed our free throws,” he said. ”We missed 10 again tonight so we’ve got to get better at those things. Young guys or whatever, we have to make free throws and we can’t turn the ball over.”
Bledsoe began his run with a three-point play, then hit a 3-pointer and made four free throws, accounting for all the offense in a 10-1 run that put Phoenix ahead 83-80 with 1:34 to play.
Hayward made one of two free throws with 35.5 seconds to go to cut the lead to 83-81.
Just before Bledsoe’s run, Utah used a 10-1 fourth-quarter spurt to go up 76-73 on a 19-footer by John Lucas III with 5:25 to play.
Hornacek said his team didn’t play well.
”We didn’t have it tonight. We didn’t have the energy. They were outhustling us to balls,” he said, ”but somehow the guys sucked it up in that fourth quarter and ended up pulling it out.”
Neither team led by more than eight points as both struggled from the field. Utah shot 36.5 percent, the Suns 37.3 percent.
Utah took its biggest lead at 53-45 on Kanter’s rebound basket with 8:58 left in the third quarter. Then Dionte Christmas, in his first NBA appearance, scored seven consecutive points on a long 2-pointer, a free throw and a 3-pointer, igniting a 17-3 run that gave Phoenix a 62-56 lead on Morris’ 19-footer with 2:49 left in the third.
Utah outscored the Suns 6-1 the rest of the quarter and trailed 63-62 entering the fourth.
Phoenix scored the first five points of the fourth quarter on Christmas’ layup and Bledsoe’s three-point play to lead 68-62 with 10:28 to play.
Utah came back to tie it at 72 on Alec Burks’ fast-break layup with 6:20 left.
The Suns’ two point-guard lineup of Bledsoe and Dragic, which accounted for 48 points in Phoenix’s season-opening win over Portland on Wednesday, was a combined 6 for 26 from the field.
NOTES: As players, Corbin and Hornacek were teammates for two seasons in Phoenix. … Hornacek stuck with Channing Frye as starting power forward even though Morris, expected to fill that role, was back from a one-game suspension. … Plumlee is the eighth player to get a double-double in his first two games for the Suns. … Hornacek used 12 of his 13 players.