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Suns lose 20-point lead on road again, battle in tight game for OT win

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) dunks in front of New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The Phoenix Suns’ 139-132 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night was not the type of win they needed.

The bad defense that has plagued them on a run of seven losses in their last nine games was incredibly uninspiring once again, they blew a 20-point lead like they did on Monday in Charlotte and the amount of frustrating brain farts on both ends of the court were present as well.

To think about it in more simplistic terms, though, Phoenix won a game in overtime on the second night of a back-to-back, one that was super tight for the last 15 minutes of game time. They played very hard and were all over the glass all night.

So, maybe it is the type of win they needed.

One thing is for sure, and that’s that it was good to see Devin Booker looking like the bad man again.

He had 44 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, having a far easier time scoring within the flow of the game than he did the past four games when he scored under 20 points in three of those.

On 13-of-24 shooting, Booker had 21 points in the third quarter and got to double digits in the first too, reaching the foul line five times to get his rhythm in place.

The Pelicans’ defense was just as bad if not worse than the Suns’, and Ricky Rubio feasted on it. He had 15 assists to go with Booker’s nine and players like Cam Johnson (18 points), Frank Kaminsky (20) and Mikal Bridges (11) were the beneficiaries of blown rotations by New Orleans.

After a first half of basketball that is difficult to describe as anything but ugly, it was a four-point edge for the Suns and they were the team of the two that decided to take advantage of the sloppy affair in the second half.

Phoenix (10-11) went on a 16-3 run to start the third quarter to go up by 17, and after a brief response from the Pelicans (6-16), they extended it to 20 with 2:12 left in the third.

That sounds like the extra push back that would have the Suns put their opposition away, but the level of execution was extremely lacking from both sides and saw New Orleans come back, with an 8-0 run in the last 2:36 of regulation sending us to overtime.

Rubio took command from there, capitalizing on all the attention paid towards Booker.

A few good defensive possessions and lack of creativity form the Pelicans later and the game was mercifully over.

The Suns were all over the offensive glass, with every starter grabbing at least two offensive rebounds and the team as a whole having 19. That’s why the Suns took 20 more shots than the Pelicans and it was the extra buffer they needed to get a win.

New Orleans shot 50.6%, hit 17 three-pointers and had three starters score at least 20 points in Lonzo Ball (20), J.J. Redick (26) and Jrue Holiday (23). As it has been said, if they had been 25-30% more organized, they would have handled the Suns easily. Like Phoenix, however, they have a whole lot more work to do to look the part of a playoff team.

The hope is that it was the type of win for the Suns to snap them out of the funk they are currently in without the injured Aron Baynes and suspended Deandre Ayton, building off it and hitting the ground running when those two come back. That’s looking through a season-long lens, but in the short term, it’s a gritty victory that’ll boost them up to close out the road trip on a high note.

UP NEXT

The Suns finish up a four-game road trip in Houston to take on the Rockets. Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m. and you can listen live on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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