Suns enjoy revenge with win over Pelicans
On Feb. 25, the New Orleans Pelicans went into the Valley of the Sun and beat the team with the best record in the NBA by a 117-102 margin.
Suffice it to say that the defeat loomed large in the minds of Phoenix players Tuesday night, who showed up in New Orleans with a purpose and accomplished it.
The Suns withstood a fast start by the Pelicans, took control late in the first quarter and gradually pulled away in the second half for an easy 131-115 win at Smoothie King Center.
CJ McCollum returned after missing two games due to health and safety protocols.
McCollum came in averaging 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists since joining New Orleans. It was certainly a lift to have him back but New Orleans needed more, make that much more as the Suns were simply sharp throughout.
Both teams came out smoking and the Pelicans built a 23-14 lead but Phoenix stayed red hot, going on a 12-0 run to take a 26-23 lead and the Suns led 33-29 after one quarter.
The two teams combined for 11 three-pointers in the quarter, with the Pelicans making six and the Suns making five.
The Suns made 13 of 21 field goal attempts in the quarter.
Phoenix bolted out to a 57-43 lead in the second quarter before the Pelicans rallied to within two points but the Suns closed the half on a 6-0 run to take a 67-59 halftime lead.
The Suns shot 58 percent from the field in the first half, including 11 of 18 from 3-point range (61%).
The Pelicans shot 53 percent from the field to stay in the game.
Phoenix scored 20 points off nine New Orleans turnovers, the difference in the half.
The Suns maintained the advantage in the third quarter and grew the lead to 98-85 as Devin Booker buried a long 3-pointer as time expired.
Phoenix ended the game at 56 percent shooting from the field and 54.5 percent from 3-point range. The Suns were also a perfect 15 for 15 from the free throw line.
New Orleans finished with 17 turnovers which Phoenix converted into 33 points.
The Suns shared the ball extremely well, as they always do, making the extra pass to get the open look Phoenix had 35 assists on 49 made shots.
The Pelicans actually shot 50 percent from the field but it was not nearly enough.
Herb Jones led New Orleans with 22 points while McCollum had 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Jaxson Hayes scored 16 points.
The Pelicans (28-41) now have 13 games to play and hit the road for a road trip which begins Friday at San Antonio against a team chasing New Orleans for the tenth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference. The trip will also take the Pelicans to Atlanta and Charlotte.
New Orleans is now a game up on Portland and 1 ½ games ahead of San Antonio for the tenth spot.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…