On a night where Devin Booker scored 40 points and dished out 13 assists and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 32 points of his own, Josh Jackson ended up being the hero.
Jackson made a clutch three pointer with just over a second left in overtime to help propel the Phoenix Suns (17-54) to the win.
Phoenix also had a little help from the New Orleans Pelicans (30-42), who couldn’t inbound the ball with 7.7 seconds left then received a technical foul when coach Alvin Gentry called a timeout they didn’t have with 1.1 seconds left.
The Suns were outrebounded 57-48 and were overmatched inside after DeAndre Ayton was ejected in the third quarter, but kept fighting and outlasted the Pelicans.
New Orleans had nine players score in double figures and Elfrid Payton recorded his fourth consecutive triple-double with 16 points, 16 assists and 13 rebounds.
The win was just the seventh on the road for the Suns this season and makes them 6-4 over their last 10 games.
If the Suns’ plan was to give Anthony Davis an easy alley-oop dunk on the first play of the game, they executed it to perfection.
Kelly-san made a fashion statement with a new purple bandana. Maybe he’s been binge watching Cobra Kai on YouTube.
Devin Booker (14) and Kelly Oubre (9) combined for 23 of the 34 points scored by the Suns in the first quarter as Phoenix shook off a slow start to lead 34-31 after the first period. Tired legs didn’t appear to be an issue, either, as Booker made his first five shots including a three pointer from over 30 feet.
DeAndre Ayton’s first half was over with nine minutes to play in the second quarter after picking up three fouls and a technical. He had eight points and three rebounds in 11 minutes.
The Suns finished the first half up 66-60. It could have been even more, but Oubre missed another dunk and Booker uncharacteristically missed a pair of free throws. Booker led the Suns in points (22), assists (5) and rebounds (4). Oubre chipped in 15 points, but was 0-4 from three point range. The Suns were just 3-14 as a team on three point shots in the half.
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 12 points and five rebounds. Elfrid Payton had nine points and eight assists. New Orleans attempted 22 free throws in the first half, but made just 15.
The Suns started the third period on an 11-4 run with all the damage being done by Oubre and Dragan Bender (that’s not a typo) to take a 77-64 lead. The Suns squandered their opportunity to blow the game wide open, though, letting the Pelicans respond with a 16-4 run of their own to pull back within one point (81-80). The Suns offense stalled, going 1-7 from the field with two turnovers during the run.
Phoenix finished the third quarter up 89-85. Ayton earned his first career ejection with 1:02 left in the period... from the bench. Not the greatest game to duck out early with backup Richaun Holmes out with a quad strain. Ayton finished with just eight points and five rebounds. The Suns’ rookie big man has hit a bit of a rough patch.
New Orleans finally regained the lead from the Suns 94-93 after an and-one three point play by Jahlil Okafor. It was their first lead since the first quarter.
Ray Spalding, who played as well as can be expected with Holmes out for the game, picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter. Spalding finished with eight points, four rebounds and two blocks.
Then, just moments later, Bender picked up his fifth foul. That prompted coach Igor Kokoskov to go with a small-ball lineup of Booker, Oubre, Mikal Bridges, Josh Jackson and De’Anthony Melton. Not much height there at all.
After retaking the lead, Booker missed two more free throws that could have given the Suns more separation. The Pelicans responded with a 10-2 run to go ahead 110-107.
The Suns kept fighting, though, and got just enough from Oubre and Booker on offense to stave off Julius Randle and the Pelicans. After a Randle dunk put New Orleans up 122-120, Booker was able to drive to the basket and make a layup to tie it back up with 18 seconds left. Frank Jackson missed a fairly good look from the top of the key as time expired, sending the game to overtime.
The Suns got quality minutes from Bender in the bonus period. He had two layups to help keep the Suns close before fouling out with 58 seconds left. Dragan probably had his best game of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing six rebounds in 34 minutes while constantly facing matchups against bigger, stronger players.
Devin Booker came up with a huge block on Kenrich Williams that led to a layup by Oubre to cut the Pelicans lead to 134-133. After another stop the Suns had a chance to take the lead, but Oubre got called for an offensive foul for pushing off (the shot went in).
The Suns were forced to foul with only 16 seconds left... and this time they actually fouled! Growth right before our eyes!
The Pelicans did the Suns a favor by missing the second of two free throws, but the Suns did the Pelicans a favor by not getting the rebound. After another foul the Pelicans went 1-2 from the line again.
This gave the Suns an opportunity to tie the game with New Orleans up 136-133, but Booker airballed a step back three pointer.
The Pelicans apparently weren’t that interested in winning the game and decided to lose in absolutely bizarre fashion.
The Pelicans failed to inbound the ball in five seconds and turned it back over to the Suns. The Pelicans were actually trying to call a timeout, but coach Alvin Gentry ran across halfcourt to stop them from doing so, since they had no timeouts left and it would have resulted in a technical foul.
After a non-shooting foul on Booker, Josh Jackson ended up with the ball on the ensuing in bounds and hit a tightly contested three pointer from well behind the line and just over one second left on the clock.
Jackson shook off a slow start and had a great second half overall. Josh finished with 19 points and seven rebounds and hit the biggest shot of the game.
Then things got really weird.
After Jackson’s shot, Gentry, who had just admonished his players for trying to call a timeout when they didn’t have one, ran out on the court to call a timeout.
I’m not sure who was more confused... Gentry or me.
What a horrible mental lapse.
The botched timeout call resulted in a technical free throw, which Booker made to put Phoenix up 137-136. The Suns were able to inbound the ball and Jackson split a pair, missing the second one (I’ll assume on purpose since that was the smart thing to do) to let the clock expire with just .6 seconds left.
Directly after the game, Oubre said that Gentry actually tried to call a timeout on the first inbounds play and that the officials blew the call because it should have been a technical the first time. Maybe Oubre meant that one or more of the Pelicans players was trying to call a timeout and the referees didn’t grant it to them... or make the call of a technical foul like they should have. At the very least it seems like Gentry saw them trying to call one... since he ran across halfcourt like a world class sprinter.
I’m still not exactly sure what happened in those closing seconds... It was almost incomprehensible. More details will probably follow to clear things up.
One thing I am sure about...
Suns win 138-136.