After 10 weeks out, Suns guard Eric Bledsoe was not going to instantly play like he did before his knee surgery.

But if he can look like that guy more often, the Suns' playoff chances look better.

Bledsoe scored 15 fourth-quarter points and finished with 23, his best scoring effort since his return, just as the Suns defense took another step toward respectability to avoid home disaster in a 98-92 victory against Detroit on Friday night.

The Suns played two of the league's weaker teams at home this week. Orlando is the NBA's worst road team and Detroit is now on a 12-game road losing streak, but each visitor still had second-half leads on the home playoff hopefuls.

The Suns (40-29) pulled out each win to pull within a half-game of Memphis (40-28), who the Suns must pass in the standings, and remain 1 1/2 games back of Dallas (42-28) heading into a Suns road trip to Minnesota, Atlanta and Washington.

Bledsoe's fourth-quarter scoring burst was right on time to make a tardy defensive effort stand up. Detroit missed seven consecutive shots after taking an 81-77 lead with 8:35 to go and missed 13 of 17 shots to close the game. Even putting the Pistons (25-43) on the free-throw line was good defense because Detroit went 10 for 26 there, including Josh Smith going 0 for 8. It was the second worst free-throw shooting performance by an NBA team with at least 26 attempts in three decades.

The Suns' second sellout crowd of the season saw their team win with fewer than 100 points for only the sixth time this season but also for the second consecutive Friday (84-80 at Boston). Until Bledsoe picked them up down the stretch, the offensive effort was disappointing because it came at home and against the NBA's fourth worst defense. The upside is a Suns win in a slow-tempo game is not has hard to by now.

"I told the guys a couple games ago that the rest of the season you're going to have to scrap and claw and fight for every play, every possession to have a chance of getting in these playoffs," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "That's kind of how tonight's game went. We did a nice job at the end, really scrapping, making tough shots and we got the boards at key times."

Bledsoe thrived off penetration in his difference-making fourth quarter but also hit a 3-pointer, one of the perimeter shots that has been escaping him since coming back six games ago.

"I had a better feel today instead of just coming out and forcing stuff," Bledsoe said. "I played with a little more rhythm."

His 3 broke a tie with 3:20 to play when Markieff Morris passed out of the post to Bledsoe at the top of the arc. The Suns never trailed again, although their free-throw shooting down the stretch made it a slow pull-away with makes on 5 of 8 tries (24 for 35 overall).