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Suns rally from 19 down, then hold on to beat Hornets

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Associated Press
11/24/2012 1:09:47 AM
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PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns stormed back after trailing by 19 in the third quarter. Then they wasted an eight-point advantage late in the fourth.

Eventually, Markieff Morris helped the Suns close out a wild victory.

Morris made a key 3-pointer in overtime and finished with a career-high 23 points as Phoenix handed the New Orleans Hornets their sixth loss in a row with a 111-108 victory on Friday night.

Goran Dragic added 20 points for Phoenix, including 12 in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the third quarter.

The Suns overcame career performances by Ryan Anderson and Greivis Vasquez. Anderson scored a career-high 34 points for New Orleans, going 8 for 13 from beyond the arc. Vasquez had 25 points and 14 assists, both career bests.

Anderson had 25 points in the second half and overtime, 14 of them as New Orleans ran out to the big lead in the third quarter. He went 7 for 10 from 3-point range after halftime.

"I can honestly say I've never seen anybody shoot it like that," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "That was Larry Bird-like if you ask me, and I don't know if Larry Bird shot 3s like that. Talk about shooting them under duress -- he had one good look and the other ones, we were right there, I mean we were right there and he just got it up and knocked it in."

Anderson shrugged off his career night and talked about his team's 19 turnovers.

"We have a lot of games like this," he said. "We've just had a lot of games come down to the stretch."

After blowing their big lead, the Hornets forced overtime by scoring the final eight points of regulation.

"We go from being down 19 to up 11, so that's a 30-point swing," Gentry said, "but we just couldn't quite close it out."

P.J. Tucker had 15 points for Phoenix, also a career best. Jermaine O'Neal had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

New Orleans was without Anthony Davis for the third game in a row because of a stress reaction in his left ankle. It was the second overtime game in a row for the Hornets, who lost 115-107 at Indiana on Wednesday.

Morris was in his second game as a starter. He scored 19 in his first game in the opening lineup on Wednesday.

"I mean, it is a little different, but Coach put it on me to be a starter," he said. "You know I have been waiting to be a starter and I need to produce and that is what I am doing."

The Suns, down 74-55 after Vasquez's 16-footer with 5:45 left in the third quarter, outscored New Orleans 39-9 and led 94-83 on Luis Scola's 8-foot hook shot with 6:37 left in regulation.

Dragic led the comeback with three 3s late in the third quarter. Tucker's 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer cut New Orleans' lead to 81-77 and started what turned out to be a 15-0 run as the Suns reserves scored the first dozen points of the fourth quarter. Jared Dudley's 3-pointer gave the Suns their first lead of the night at 82-81.

O'Neal's 5-footer put Phoenix up 86-85 with 5:49 to play and, after New Orleans cut the lead to three, Dudley's third 3-pointer of the quarter had the Suns up 103-95 with 1:37 to play.

But Anderson, whose eight 3-pointers also were a career best, sank a step-back 28-footer, former Sun Robin Lopez made a 14-foot shot and Vasquez made his only 3 of the night to tie it at 103 with 17.8 seconds left. Dudley misfired at the end of regulation.

Dragic's high-arching 18-footer put the Suns up for good in overtime, then Morris' 3-pointer made it 108-103. Anderson's 22-footer from just inside the 3-point line cut the lead to 108-105. Tucker sank a pair of free throws, but Roger Mason made a 3-pointer to cut it to 110-108 with 1.4 seconds to go.

Morris gave the Hornets one last chance by missing one of two free throws, but Mason could only toss up an air ball under pressure at the buzzer.

NOTES: Vasquez was 7 of 7 from the field in the first half and 10 of 13 for the game. ... The Hornets lost Jason Smith early in the game with a corneal abrasion. ... Phoenix was the second stop on a five-game trip for New Orleans. The Hornets are at Denver on Sunday. ... Phoenix opens a six-game trip Sunday at Philadelphia. ... The Hornets' 19-point lead was their biggest of the season. Their previous high was 14.

Markieff Morris (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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