The Phoenix Suns led nearly wire to wire after falling down 9-4 in the opening minutes. They shot the ball well and played aggressive defense, keeping the Pelicans to 37% shooting on the night.
Eric Bledsoe scored 29 points and dished 8 assists, while Alex Len had 19 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. Len even made a three in the final seconds. Markieff Morris came off the bench to put in 13 points on 5/13 shooting in only 15 minutes.
Anthony Davis had a quiet 16 points and 12 rebounds in a losing cause.
The big news for the Suns was that Markieff Morris checked in ahead of Mirza Teletovic mid-first, and ended up making the end-of-quarter buzzer beating three to stretch the lead to 11. Morris finished with 8 points in the first, but also picked up his third foul early in the second and had to sit again.
Alex Len came out strong off the bench behind Tyson Chandler, scoring on 3 of 4 attempts and grabbing 6 strong rebounds in just 6 minutes.
Eric Bledsoe scored 11 points in the first.
While a 28-17 score might look impressive, the Suns got there partially on the Pelican's Eric Gordon missing three consecutive WIIIIDE open threes off bad Suns weak side help defense.
All in all, Gordon missed 5 threes in the first quarter (making only 1) despite being only lightly guarded at best.
The Suns kept up the lead in the second, stretching it to 15 at one point (35-20) before the Pelicans came to life a bit.
The Suns scuttled with the unit of Ronnie Price, Tyson Chandler, Mirza Teletovic and Brandon Knight. Knight just wasn't aggressive, leaving the team without a scorer.
Bledsoe came back in to stop the bleeding a bit, but the Pelicans were now awake. Luckily, Alex Len was being a beast and when he replaced Chandler he immediately scored on consecutive possessions.
Len and Bledsoe helped the rest of the team pull back out to a 46-30 lead, especially punctuated by active defense, strong rebounding and great passing to break down the Pelicans D for a couple slams (Len and Leuer).
Brandon tried to get himself going with more active defense, and it worked. He got some energy, and that translated on offense to a sweet J and a couple of nice passes for scores.
Then the Pelicans went on another run, cutting the lead to 48-38 before PJ. Tucker went into the wayback machine and drained a corner three. Like he was supposed to all season.
Suns led 53-42 at halftime, after Ish Smith made a line drive banker with a couple seconds left.
The Suns came out strong - a nice sign after consecutive eggs this week - and stretched the lead to 17.
The Pelicans helped with reaching fouls on several possessions on Suns drives into the paint. Really, the Suns were aggressors, and Pelicans a half-step slow.
Tyson Chandler had his best stretch since returning from the hamstring injury, being aggressive on offense and defense with 3 rebounds, a big block and 3 points on offense (put back and free throw).
Markieff Morris had his second sighting, and made a shot but then missed a couple badly and had a turnover. The Suns were for some reason force-feeding him, and he was chewing vociferously. Just missing.
The Pelicans got to the free throw line a lot toward the end of the quarter, but could barely cut into the lead.
Suns led 77-64 after three, closing on a nice driving pullup floater by Brandon Knight.
Let's see if the Suns can maintain their lead here. Bledsoe has 4 fouls, so needs to rest a bit while Price and Knight run the show. The Pelicans have gone small and gotten aggressive, up to 27 free throws now (23 makes) versus Suns 13 (7 makes).
The Pelicans' Jrue Holiday had some success, but the aggressive Suns kept the lead at 12 on an oop to Len from Morris, and a couple offensive rebounds (Morris and Warren).
Alex Len is having a very good game, already with 15 points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.
The Pelicans guards just kept driving to the hoop, getting foul calls and making their points at the line. They were able to start chipping away at the lead when the Suns let off the gas a bit again, but not much.
The Suns made only 5 of 14 threes and 10 of 17 free throws, and had 18 turnovers while the Pelicans made 30 of 35 free throws. So how can the Suns lead by 13 with 2:50 left? Thanks to making 52% of their shots while holding the Pelicans to 37%.