The Suns had a good first half, but closed poorly and came out totally flat in the second half, and that was the game.
The Pelicans scored on nine straight possessions in the second half, outscoring the Suns 32-14 over the late-first / early second half with Anthony Davis on the floor.
Once they got up 77-66, after the Suns had led 52-45 at one point, the Pelicans just cruised to victory.
But hey at least there was this.
The Pelicans shot 67% in the second half. SIXTY SEVEN PERCENT. A team that’s been the walking dead with Anthony Davis these last three weeks.
They made 16 of 27 threes. 58% of their shots overall for the game.
Meanwhile the Suns shot only 42% for the game.
I am alternately sad and really angry over this team.
Dragan Bender gets the start over Josh Jackson. Otherwise, same guys in Tyler Johnson, Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Deandre Ayton
If the opening quarter is any judge, the Suns finally found a team worse off. The Pelicans looked listless and uninterested from the opening tip, getting down 8-2 then 17-6, even with the Suns missing a few wide open threes in there.
The only Suns player to make a three so far? Dragan Bender. He got the start to combat the rebounding power of the Pelicans front line, and produced 5 points and 3 rebounds in the opening five minutes!
Josh Jackson entered the game at the 4 minute mark and a fan yelled “Hey Josh you showed up!”
Jackson’s first shot attempt came with attacking Anthony Davis on a drive, stopping, spinning... and getting his shot blocked. Later, he got a pass in transition and tried a monster dunk... which bounced off the rim back to the other team for a score.
But Booker had a rough first quarter, going 0-4 from the field and committing four turnovers to only one assist. He had six points on free throws.
Off the Pelicans bench, Frank Jackson made a pair of threes and visiting team pulled back within 32-27 by the end of the quarter.
This game is a mess, and so far the Suns have just a little more juice.
The second quarter started sloppy too, but after a couple of misses when he came in, Troy Daniels began lighting up again. A pair of big corner threes by Daniels, plus a pair from Melton on the angles got the Suns to a 10-point lead in the blink of an eye. Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges showed off their attacking playmaking with five assists between them in only a few minutes together.
The Suns lead was still seven when Anthony Davis returned for the final four minutes of the half.
This is a game any NBA team should be able to win. But for the Suns it will be a major victory if they actually do.
One point game at halftime, as the Pelicans make a pair of threes in the final minute while the Suns missed a ton of open, relatively uncontested shots (except when they inexplicably went straight at Anthony Davis and were rejected summarily every time).
- Devin Booker 11 points, 4 rebounds, but only 2-7 from the field, 1 assist, 4 turnovers
- Josh Jackson 3 assists, but 0-2 from the field — one blocked by AD, one missed dunk
- Dragan Bender had 5 and 3 in the first five minutes, then didn’t do anything well in his next six minutes
- Suns team allowed 46% three point shooting (6-14) to the Pelicans, -1 rebounding, -4 on fast break points, -3 personal fouls
- Kelly Oubre Jr. 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals (but 1-5 on threes, 5-13 overall)
- Deandre Ayton 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals
- Suns team with 9 first-half steals, +5 on free throws
- Anthony Davis had 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks without even really trying in 12 first half minutes
Suns up just 57-56 at half.
Bender opened the Suns half scoring with a three (yay!).
But the Pelicans scored on their first NINE possessions to secure a 77-66 lead before Igor made his first substitution (boo). Three threes, and the rest at the rim. They only missed one shot in that stretch, by AD, but Randle got the put-back.
Clearly Gentry told his team at halftime this is the Suns, and stop screwing around.
They led as many as 10 again, 89-79, even after a mini-Suns run got it back within six.
At one point the Suns got a steal, then Jrue Holiday stripped Melton on the break and ended up making the three to push their lead back to 11.
The 3rd quarter was the Holiday show: 13 points and 2 assists, not to mention his All-NBA defensive skills.
Pelicans up 94-84 after three, after shooting 15-21 from the field with five threes.
Troy Daniels had the sequence of his career to try to keep the Suns in it, blocking Chiek Diallo out of nowhere on one end, holding onto the ball, dribbling down the court, breaking down two defenders and getting the and-one on the other end.
But it wasn’t enough. The Pelicans had, like every other team, broken the Suns spirit to start the second half and every move after that was just to keep it close.