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Final Score: Suns weather the storm, beat down Pelicans, 112-100

The Suns were down 14 points late in the third quarter, but came back to win in a solid fourth quarter.

New Orleans Pelicans v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

It wasn’t pretty.

The Suns barely showed up for more than two quarters, then struggled to make shots even when their energy increased. They were still down 14 to the Pelicans — who are 1-6 on the season and missing their two best players — late in the third quarter!

But then Mikal Bridges happened. He helped the Suns rev up their defense and finished a number of broken plays on offense. Bridges finished with 22 points.

And Chris Paul happened. First on devastating pick-and-roll passes to JaVale McGee and Frank Kaminsky for and-one finishes. Then on break-back middys when the defense sagged.

The Pelicans just didn’t have enough firepower to overcome a focused Chris Paul: 14 points (6-8 shooting), 18 assists and 7 rebounds.

Frank Kaminsky (17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and a block) was great all night, and JaVale McGee was way up and way down, finishing with 18 points and 5 rebounds. They were really needed against big Jonas Valanciunas with Deandre Ayton (knee pain) out for this one.

The Suns are now 3-3 on the season, with a 112-100 win.

Better luck next game, Willie Green (head coach, Pelicans)! We wish you all the success in the world when you’re not playing your former team.


Game Flow

After winning the tip, the Suns had four shots attempts on the first possession, three of them from JaVale McGee. One was blocked, then a miss by Booker, then two more taps before it finally went in. Kudos to JaVale for the effort.

But then Jonas V started dominating, with a three, a block/steal and an offensive rebound for a putback. Gonna be very tough to contain this guy.

Like all Suns opponents this year, the Pelicans made a bunch of shots (58% from the field, 60% on threes) to take a 17-13 lead. The Suns committed four turnovers in the first five minutes, resulting in 6 of the Pelicans 17 points.

Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul needed just eight assists tonight to pass both Mark Jackson and two-time MVP Steve Nash on career assists. He tied Nash within the first nine minutes of the Suns vs. Pelicans game, and passed Nash early in the second quarter.

Paul now owns the 3rd most assists in NBA history.

That was the only bright spot for the Suns in the first quarter, however. After the Suns took a 13-12, the Pelicans went on a 24-9 run to take a 36-20 lead. The Suns had 8 turnovers in the quarter — EIGHT — which turned into of the Pelicans 36 points. The Pellies also made 56% of their shots, including 6 of 10 threes. Ugh. Jonas V had 9 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.

The Pelicans are playing with a ton of spirit, and the Suns are playing... without it.

Once again, for the 6th game in a row, the Suns are badly losing the three-point shooting war: the Pelicans have taken more (10 to 6) and made more (6 to 2).

When the Suns kept getting doubled up by a Pelicans team missing their best two players — Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram — the fans began to boo. The boos were light at the beginning of the second quarter and they just got louder and deeper as the quarter progressed.

The Pelicans had a 20-point lead most of the second quarter, though they gave up a 15-6 run to let the Suns pull to within seven points before scoring the final basket of the quarter.

Pelicans up 59-48 at halftime. Reminder: Pelicans are missing their two best players, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, while the Suns are missing Deandre Ayton and Cameron Payne.

The Suns just simply are not playing well, while the Pelicans are playing inspired basketball, shooting 50% on threes (8-16) and 52.2% overall. The Suns have committed almost as many turnovers (14) as shots made (17).

Second half

The Suns played a lot more spirited defense in the second half, forcing the Pelicans into much tougher shots. And despite Devin Booker’s awful quarter, they pulled back into the game with transition offense off that good defense. It also helped that New Orleans started missing shots, even open ones off broken plays.

The Suns had pulled to within three points, 65-62, before Frank THA GOD had to take a breather. When he sat, he had 14 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and good defense to hold Jonas Valanciunas in check in his 20 minutes so far on the court.

Javale Mcgee and Elfrid Payton came back, and suddenly the Pelicans got right again. Jonas was unleashed, and well...

Before we knew it, the Suns had gotten back down 75-64 after a 10-2 Pelicans run. The threes opened back up for them (3/4) and an open floor jam by JV forced a Suns timeout. A microcosm of the run: a Payton turnover turned into an open corner transition three, then a JaVale fall-down in the paint resulted in a Jonas fast break jam.

The Pelicans are now 11-25 on threes while the Suns are just 6-18. Booker stays on the floor, probably telling Monty he’s good (he’s not, at 3-16 from the floor, 1-7 on threes).

More subs, less Elfrid, and the Suns pull back to within 6 points at the end of the third quarter, 82-76. Mikal Bridges now leads the team with 17 points on 7-10 shooting.

A quick 7-0 run in the 4th quarter, including 5 by McGee on pick and roll finishes from Chris Paul, gave the Suns their first lead at 83-82 since 13-12 in the first quarter. CP is now up to 15 assists in this game, but has taken only 3 shots.

Then Paul made a middy to give the Suns another lead at 84-83, and his 16th assist — another pick and roll dunk to McGee — gave the Suns another lead at 87-86. McGee is now up to 18 points.

Chris Paul got up to 18 assists with a pick and roll bounce pass to Frank Kaminsky for the finish. The Suns kept the lead, 93-91, with 6:49 left, despite still only have 8 threes made to the Pelicans’ 12. The Suns have not had a single game with more threes than their opponents yet this season.

Paul made a pair of middys — opened up because the defense had to sag off to defend the paint CP had been killing them on all night — to put the Suns up 97-91.

But then the Suns lost their mojo again. The Pelicans got come open shots they hadn’t gotten for a while, and stopped the Suns on the other end to pull back to 97-96.

CP happened again, with a pair of jumpers to get up 5 again. Good thing too, because no one on the Suns wanted to shoot it except Paul. They passed or bricked shot after shot.

Luckily, the Pelicans just didn’t have the ability to close it out over CP.

When Booker made another long two — is there any other kind? — the Suns were up 103-96 wih 1:56 left.

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