I told you this morning how Zach Lowe pointed out to me (and a million of my closest friends) that the Pelicans give you all the threes you want, and the key to a Suns win is to take and make them.
On Tuesday night on the featured TNT game, your Phoenix Suns made a TON of threes to propel them to a blowout win over the Pelicans, 111-86.
The game on TNT allowed the Suns to show off their new The Valley jerseys and court, and they absolutely popped on TV.
“I wish we could play in them the whole season,” Ayton said later, with a big smile, about the jerseys standing for how they represent the valley and all the Suns fans. “It’s all love. All love.”
The Suns led by 2 points after one quarter, 22 after two and 39 after three (100-61). They made 17 of 38 threes in the first three quarters alone, but they also outrebounded (32-26) and drew more free throws (17-11) than the burly Pellies. All that through three quarters.
I’m using only three-quarter stats because for the first time this year, the fourth quarter simply didn’t matter. Not when you lead by 39 at 100-61 going into it.
Who was great for the Suns?
Jae Crowder had 21 points in 21 minutes to lead all scorers. Six different Suns scored in double figures and none of them were named Booker or Paul. Deandre Ayton put up 13 points, 12 rebounds and a block in 26 minutes. No starter played more than 30 minutes in this one.
“For Chris and Devin to not have to carry us, that’s a great sign,” coach Monty Williams said. Chris Paul had 9 points and 9 assists. Devin Booker had 9 points and 3 assists.
I’m sure Booker is a bit confused about all this, considering he’s had to BE the one all his career. But these days Booker just needs to pass out of those blitzy double teams and let the rest of his guys blow the dudes out.
Mikal and the two Cams were incredible once again. Mikal Bridges played very good defense on Brandon Ingram while recording 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals. Cameron Johnson took 10 threes and scored 18 points, while also recording 2 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal. And Cam Payne had 13 points and 7 assists. In this triumphant return, Dario Saric had 10 points and 4 rebounds.
“Watching Dario was really cool,” Williams said. “We expect him for a few more games.”
The Suns are 3-1 for the first time since 2014. And their 48 total three-point attempts was a franchise record.
But don’t get too excited quite yet.
“We’re not gonna get happy on the farm four games in,” coach Monty Williams said after the game. “You need a 20-game sample size to know who you are.”
After a nip and tuck first quarter, the Pelicans-Suns game blew wide open to a 22-point (66-44) difference by halftime. The Pelicans made 13 of 18 shots in the first quarter. Zion Williamson and Steven Adams combined to make 11 of 12 shots by halftime, while the Phoenix Suns All-Star back court of Chris Paul and Devin Booker combined for only two shot attempts. TOTAL.
All those things are true.
So you might be surprised to find out it was your PHOENIX SUNS with the 22-point halftime lead. Yes, the Suns with the very cool alternate Valley court and uniforms. The Suns with really good young talent. The Phoenix Suns with the point god, CP3.
The rest of the Suns made 9 of 19 threes in the half, Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton all tallying 11+ and nine different Suns getting into the scoring column. Once again, Cam Payne was sublime. Mikal Bridges was glorious. The ball was popping all over the court, with big thanks to Dario Saric’s first appearance as the team’s connector. At halftime, Saric had 7 points, 4 rebounds, an assist and a steal. The Suns won the second quarter 35-15.
So of course the TNT guys spent halftime talking about Zion Williamson. Big shocker.
Any team would come out soft to start the second half after gloating on a 22-point lead... except a team led by Chris Paul and Jae Crowder that is. Just like the start of the game, Paul and Crowder combined to help the Suns keep that foot smashed on the gas pedal.
Soon the Suns lead was 79-47 and the Pelicans called a timeout.
SEVENTY NINE TO FOURTY SEVEN.
I understand this is early-season stuff, and you can’t put any permanent marker on a game like this. Remember the Suns were 5-2 a year ago before injuries and learning curves had them struggling to stay close to .500 the rest of the way. But this feels different. This feels sustainable.
After three quarters, the Suns were up by 39. Halfway through the 4th, it was still a 40-point lead.
So then we saw a closing lineup of Carter, E’Twaun Moore, Damian Jones, Frank Kaminsky and Ty-Shon Alexander. That’s when TNT cut away to another game.
THE SUNS WERE BLOWING OUT THE PELICANS SO BAD THAT TNT CUT AWAY TO A CLOSER GAME. The Kings, who the Suns just beat by 13, were leading the Nuggets late in the fourth 117-108.