Wed, Nov 6 Suns-Spurs Preview
AT&T Center - San Antonio, Texas
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD, Associated Press Last Updated: Wed, Nov 6 1:53 ET
With Eric Bledsoe providing a huge spark, the Phoenix Suns are off to a strong start after finishing with the Western Conference's worst record last season.
Now they'll get a chance to see just how far they've come against the defending conference champs.
The surprising Suns look for their first 4-1 start since their last playoff season four years ago as they visit the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.
Following a 25-57 finish last season, Phoenix (3-1) was expected to be more in contention for the top spot in the 2014 draft lottery than the playoffs.
The Suns, however, continued a promising start Tuesday when they rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to even their record on this three-game road swing with a 104-98 victory in New Orleans.
''We're starting to make a little noise, but it's only four games into the season,'' said Gerald Green, who had 18 points and matched a career high with six 3-pointers. ''We haven't done anything yet.''
They are off to their best start since winning eight of nine to open the 2009-10 season thanks in part to Bledsoe, who appears to be on his way to a breakout season.
Bledsoe, acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in a three-team trade in July, finished with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting with five assists and three steals.
''I just took what the defense gave me,'' Bledsoe said. ''They gave me layups all night, so I was going to take every last one of them.''
Bledsoe has 51 points, 19 assists, 11 rebounds and six steals in his last two games. He's averaging team highs with 22.8 points, 7.8 assists and 2.3 steals, though he's also committed 5.5 turnovers per game.
The fourth-year guard will try to lead the Suns to their second straight win over the Spurs (3-1), though it would be only their third in the last 12 meetings.
It isn't likely to come easy against a San Antonio team that had 27 points off 23 Denver turnovers and limited the Nuggets to 16 fourth-quarter points en route to a 102-94 victory Tuesday.
Tony Parker finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting and Tim Duncan had 17 with eight rebounds, eight assists and four blocks.
''I thought our defense was much better in the fourth,'' said coach Gregg Popovich, whose team allowed 115 points in Saturday's loss at Portland. ''We held them to about 13 points until the very end when Ty Lawson went to the line. But our aggressiveness on defense picked up, which fueled our offense.''
Although he missed one of the three meetings due to a triceps injury, Parker totaled 53 points on 22-of-37 shooting with 15 assists against the Suns last season.
Duncan finished with 19 points and 11 boards in the most recent meeting, but the Suns snapped a six-game losing streak to San Antonio with a 105-101 overtime win Feb. 27.
The Spurs could be without Matt Bonner after he sat out the second half Tuesday because of tightness in his left calf.
Green could get another start alongside Bledsoe with Goran Dragic doubtful because of an ankle injury.