The Phoenix Suns haven't had great success at the start of this season, but proved once again they can never be counted out of a game.
Goran Dragic scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half and overtime as the Suns overcame a 19-point third-quarter deficit to rally for a thrilling 111-108 victory over the New Orleans Hornets at U.S. Airways Center.
Phoenix trailed 74-55 just past the midway point of the third quarter, then dominated the next 12 minutes to build an 11-point lead, only to squander it as the Hornets forced overtime with an 18-7 tear capped by Greivis Vasquez's game-tying 3-pointer with 17.8 seconds left in regulation.
New Orleans ran out of gas in the extra session, however, failing to score until the final minute in its third straight outing without No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis.
"It's just hurtful the way we've been losing," Vasquez admitted. "We just have to play better defense. Our defense is just struggling."
Phoenix, on the other hand, has made a habit out of closing strong. The Suns have been down by double digits in seven of their eight home games this season, and have prevailed in four of those tests.
Markieff Morris established a career-high with 23 points and knocked down a back-breaking 3-pointer with 49.9 remaining in overtime to help Phoenix notch its second consecutive victory, with P.J. Tucker also setting a personal best with 15 points off the bench.
"I can't say enough about P.J. Tucker," Suns coach Alvin Gentry remarked. "He epitomizes what we want our entire team to be, really. That is a hard, grind- it-out worker that never quits on any play."
The Hornets were dealt their sixth consecutive defeat despite career performances from Vasquez and Ryan Anderson.
Anderson poured in 34 points while knocking down 8-of-13 shots from beyond the arc, with Vasquez racking up 25 points and 14 assists.
The Hornets appeared well on their way towards ending their skid after outscoring Phoenix by a 19-6 count to begin the third quarter, turning a six- point halftime edge into a seemingly commanding 72-53 advantage a little over five minutes into the period.
Anderson was the catalyst to the big run, draining four 3-pointers within a span of less than three minutes.
Phoenix then seized the momentum, putting together a 16-4 spurt in which Dragic found the hot hand. The point guard buried a trio of triples during the sequence as the Suns closed to within 76-69 with 2:46 left in the quarter.
A Tucker trey at the buzzer trimmed New Orleans' lead to 81-77 at the end of the third, and the Suns began the fourth with a 17-2 flurry to grab an 11- point spread with under 6 1/2 minutes to go. Luis Scola and Jared Dudley each netted six points during the run.
Phoenix seemed to have the game in hand when up 103-95 with 1:37 remaining in regulation, but Anderson struck again from long range and ex-Sun Robin Lopez hit a jumper with 46.7 seconds left before Vasquez tied it with a clutch trey on New Orleans' next possession.
The Hornets would falter in extra time, however, misfiring on their first four shot attempts and committing four turnovers. Dragic put Phoenix back ahead with a jumper with 3:39 left, and Morris' 3-pointer in the final minute proved to be too much to overcome.
New Orleans sped out to a 16-8 lead less than five minutes into the contest and shot a torrid 66.7 percent in building a 31-23 advantage after one quarter, with Vasquez leading the charge by posting eight points and six assists.
The Hornets were up by as many as 11 points early in the second quarter, but Phoenix chipped away and pulled within 53-47 at the break on Dragic's reverse layup in the final seconds.
Anderson has now made 16-of-26 attempts from three point range in starting the last three games in place of Davis, who's dealing with a left ankle injury. He eclipsed his previous career high of 30 points, set against the Knicks while with Orlando on Jan. 16 of last season ... Vasquez's previous personal best in points was 24, set at Houston on Nov. 14, and he had 13 assists in a season- opening loss to Sacramento on Oct. 31 ... Lopez, who spent his first four seasons with the Suns before being traded to New Orleans in July, finished with eight points and seven rebounds against his former club ... Hornets forward Jason Smith left the contest in the first half with a corneal abrasion.