The Phoenix Suns were challenged by the New Orleans Pelicans and it was a challenge too steep to overcome, losing 117-102.
The Pelicans felt like they could come into Phoenix and steal one away from the best team in the NBA. Taking a hold of the game from the start, the Pelicans made the big shots to answer any kind of run from the Suns.
For the first time without Chris Paul in his short time away, the Suns looked lost on offense and played individual basketball.
Either DA or his teammates said something after last nights game about getting him involved early because he looks absolutely focused.
To begin the game, everything was working for DA and his face showed that it looked expected. On offense of course, but on defense he was out on the perimeter blocking shots.
The Suns led the Pelicans 14-13 early in the first. The battle started in the paint with 8 points each in the paint.
A lot was on the plate for Booker in the second straight game, having to handle the ball more. Getting to the rim, like last night, was there right away.
Booker was getting to the rim, but the Pelicans were sending multiple guys at him, forcing him to pass out. Sometimes leading to turnovers.
23-20 with 2:30 left in the 1st, the Suns trailed the Pelicans. The defense for the Suns was playing well, but the lose balls kept going to the Pelicans leading to good looks at the rim.
The Suns were able to get to the line for 10 free-throw attempts in the 1st but still trailed 31-22 to start the 2nd.
Bad news hit early in the 2nd quarter with Torrey Craig going down with what looked like a knee injury. A bad start to the game turned worse.
Basketball Gods are ruthless towards the Suns right now.— Suns Report (@TheSunsReport) February 26, 2022
Please Torrey be OK
Landry Shamet got the Suns hopes back up again with his 2nd three of the game and cutting the Pelicans lead to 35-34.
Cameron Johnson was running the offense, taking the ball to the rim and finding open teammates around the paint leading to easy buckets.
The Pelicans kept attacking the basket and grabbing loose balls. The only way the Suns could get back into the game is to clean up a few things defensively and pick up the pace when it came to the offense.
All of a sudden, the Suns had a 3-point lead off the finger tips of Booker. Defense was leading to offense and the 3’s were falling.
Keeping the game close, Pelicans forced the Suns to work on the glass and every possession was very precious in the first half for the Suns.
53-50, Pelicans led at the half.
The pressure was on Booker and the Suns to come out and match the Pelicans intensity. A great way to do that was to have Mikal Bridges start out with a monster dunk and that is exactly what he did.
4 team fouls for the Suns to start the half. Only 3 minutes into the 2nd half!
5 team fouls with 9 minutes left in the 3rd for the Suns! The Pelicans pushed the lead to 65-57. Getting to the line and hustling the boards was their recipe.
Then DA with the 3!
Just turned on the game to see DA hit a three. That was nice.— SoSaysJ(ae) (@SoSaysJ) February 26, 2022
Booker looked absolutely exhausted and not getting the foul calls leading to a technical. Carrying the team the best he could, it was getting to him when the calls were not going his way.
The Pelicans were now up 77-70 at this point. With the game in reach, the heads needed to cool off.
Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum kept the Pelicans distant from the Suns in the 3rd quarter. Their ability to shot create against a tired Suns defense led to a 86-77 lead toward the end of the 3rd.
The 3’s began to brick for the Suns and the last ounce of energy might have already been spent, but the last run for the Suns began with a Shamet take to the rim. Quickly, that was ended with a CJ 3-point play.
The 24th foul was called on the Suns with 9:19 left in the game. Any break the Suns needed was halted by a foul call. Any momentum was blown dead.
CJ was unstoppable. The Suns found no answer in tonight's game and when DA wanted the ball, it was too little too late.
The Suns couldn’t find the energy to finish on and the Pelicans finished the out 117-102.