What: New Orleans Pelicans (21-34) vs. Phoenix Suns (17-38)
When: Monday, 7:00 PM AZ time
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
Two teams struggling to win in 2016-17 face off just before the All-Star break and trade deadline.
“The Brow” Anthony Davis remains one of the best players in the league and represents the Pelicans as they host All-Star Weekend, while the Suns boast some of the league’s better young players - Rising Stars Devin Booker (who Jared Dudley told The Ringer should be a multi-time All-Star) and Marquese Chriss.
It’s a SEGABABA for NOLA! The Pelicans lost to Sacramento 105-99 on Sunday night, and now head to Phoenix.
lowlight low blow of the night came here...
Buddy Hield ejected for... well... pic.twitter.com/oW5gGyBrQ2— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) February 13, 2017
The Pellies are trying to fight for a playoff position after starting the season very poorly, but they have now lost 6 of 8 games and sit a 3.5 games behind Denver for the 8th seed. No fewer than 6 teams are within 3.5 games of that last spot, with only Phoenix and the Lakers conclusively out.
Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday are the biggest contributors to the Pelicans season, but Holiday is a distant second in scoring (28 points to 16.2). Terrence Jones is the only other double-digit scorer for the Pels, though Tyreke Evans is coming back and finding his groove again.
Alvin Gentry’s roster still just doesn’t have much to it beyond AD and Jrue (who hasn’t even been healthy or available until the middle third of this season).
Gawd that was an awful game on Saturday night.
But hey at least we got to see career highs from 21-year old rookie point guard Tyler Ulis!
Ulis posted career highs in minutes (27.9), points (13), assists (6), field goals (5), attempts (13), all as one of only four Suns players with a positive plus/minus (+6 in 28 minutes) in the blowout at the hands of the Rockets.
While Brandon Knight utterly failed to fill in for resting point guard Eric Bledsoe on Saturday (a minus-37 in just 20 minutes of play?!?!), Ulis did well in his time against the Houston bench and starting units.
Now the question is when/whether head coach Earl Watson will give Ulis more time as the backup point guard. But with just two games remaining before the All-Star Break and then trade deadline, the Suns might want to give Knight one or two more chances for a better showing to entice a trade for anything.
After the Suns beat the Pelicans in overtime in November, the Pelicans turned around and beat the Suns on Bright Side Night (bad outcome, but really fun game to watch) and then again last week in NOLA.
These have all been nice finishes even if the games have been mucky. Let’s hope for another close finish tonight.
November 4: Suns 112, NOLA 111
Devin Booker pumped in 38 points to help the Suns beat the winless Pelicans in the second week of the season, including a game-tying buzzer beater to force overtime.
Then, T.J. Warren won it with a sweet play drawn up to get him a side-out dive to the basket for the winning slam.
December 11 (Bright Side Night 2016): NOLA 120, Suns 119
The Suns had a strong lead in the third quarter, but Anthony Davis and clan came back to tie the score and then win in overtime.
February 6: NOLA 111, Suns 106
Anthony Davis (34 points) and Jrue Holiday (30 points) came up big in the final minutes to hold off the Suns.
The Suns seem to have 2-3 bad games for every good one, so they are still on track for another dud or two after Friday’s convincing win over Chicago.
The players are proud, though, and get to play two final games at home before the break, so maybe they will be energized.
Let’s go ahead and predict a competitive loss for the Suns.