The New Orleans Pelican culminates in time.
This is bad news for the Phoenix Suns after their top scorer.
Possessing Brandon Ingram’s strong hand, Herbert Jones’ relentless defense and a 12-0 in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans escaped the Suns to win 118-103 on Sunday. Now the team that started the season 1-12 and needed two wins in play to secure the final game point for the West, tied 2-2 with the best team in the NBA in the first round of the playoffs.
And Devin Booker won’t be back anytime soon.
The game was tight from the start, with Phoenix responding to a 25-22 lead in the first quarter from New Orleans to take a 51-49 lead at halftime. But the second half was all swans. New Orleans topped Phoenix by 13 points in the third quarter before the game turned into a blast in the fourth, ignited by a 12-0 rally to extend its lead to 101-85 with 5:44 remaining. The Suns had no response.
Here comes Herb Jones
The postseason star turned Jones — known in the regular season for his voracious defense of people who pay attention — to another notch on Sunday. The Novice confused the second round and repeatedly frustrated the Suns’ usually simplified attack on a stealth tone and three blocks. Chris Paul bothered his fast passing and the result of an inside pass by Suns striker Jay Crowder in the fourth quarter to such an extent that he passed Jones through the standoff, blocking a glaring blunder in the Suns’ already disastrous sequence.
This was the highlight of the 12-0 Pelicans round. Not to be left out, though, was this block by Jones for the Cameron Payne 3 Index, Jones’ third hit tonight.
When the night ended, Jones added 13 points, three assists and two rebounds to his defensive tally. Meanwhile, Paul finished off with four points, 11 assists and three turnovers while shooting a 2-of-8 off the field, dazed in equal parts by Jones and unresolved debutante Jose Alvarado, who had a hit on his recently signed four-year, $6.5 million contract then earlier. Playing in New Orleans by bilateral agreement.
Alvarado forced Paul to a pair of backcourt inversions, including a late pocket pick that resulted in an undisputed throw for Jones.
Meanwhile, Ingram led the Pelicans’ attack, scoring 30 points on 11 of 23 shots to go with five assists and four rebounds. This effort marked his third straight playoff with at least 30 points, The first time Pelican players do this in the history of the franchise.
Meanwhile, Jonas Valanciunas dominated the paint, scoring 26 points and 15 rebounds in a 9 of 15 shot, outperforming his Suns counterpart Dendir Eaton, who finished the game with 23 points and eight rebounds.
Meanwhile, Booker, who sustained a hamstring injury in game two, was relegated to Division Two to watch from the sideline. He and his 26.8 points per game could do nothing about the outcome of the match in streetwear. And now the unimaginable has moved into a world not so far away. The Western Conference’s top seeded Suns by eight games with a 64-18 record appeared to be poor against the Pelicans who finished the regular season 10-under 0.500 (36-46).
Game five returns to Phoenix on Tuesday, when the pressure will be uncharacteristically high on the home team.