Up until the 2:50 mark of the 3rd quarter, the Pelicans were entertaining, winning and generally playing good basketball. Then, Al-Farouq Aminu entered the game for Jeff Withey and the Suns started burying shots in his face. In addition, the opponent's run was furthered by a couple of questionable findings by the referees. First, Eric Gordon appeared to make a 3 point shot while drawing the foul, yet the referees determined the smallest of hitches in his attempt prevented a continuation call. Next, Tyreke Evans seemed to have converted an And-1 basket, but the referee called a charge. Even the ESPN analyst exclaimed, "that's gotta be a block(ing foul)!"
Such is life.
Over the final 14:50 of the game, the Pelicans were outscored by 20 points. They stopped feeding Anthony Davis, who was an absolute beast. They were unable to come up with several key defensive rebounds. And the Suns hit several fortunate shots: a banked-in 3 pointer by Goran Dragic and a rainbow, that would even make Aminu jealous, by Ish Smith over an out-stretched Davis.
- Anthony Davis, we love you: 32 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 1 block. Tonight his jumper was nearly flawless (14-18 from the floor) as evidenced by the numerous fadeaways. If this becomes a thing, he isn't going to need THAT much help guiding the team through deep playoff runs year after year.
- Tyreke Evans drew the start tonight and the returns were largely positive. Initially, the Pelicans got off to a quick start and Evans offense was much more effective (6-13 FG). He even hit a three for a good measure. Maybe he should hang out in elevators more often?
- Brian Roberts was mostly awful. Dragic got off to an incredibly hot start that allowed the Suns to keep pace with us in the first quarter. Before Rivers was able to check into the game, "the dragon" had already amassed 13 points. But the worst came in the 4th quarter when, down 5 points, Roberts inexplicably pulled up and shot a quick 3 pointer that missed badly. Seconds later, he was unable to corral a rebound that he was able to get both of his hands on.
- Austin Rivers was less awful than Roberts. His offense was sheesh -- missing point blank lay-ins -- but at least his defense was remarkably better on Dragic for a significant period of time. Unfortunately, with the news Jrue Holiday is done for the season, the team is going to have to rely on the Roberts/Rivers combo for the final 24 games of the season. Here's to Austin showing improvement by becoming more consistent game to game.
- With Evans drawing the start, Al-Farouq Aminu was banished to the bench. He didn't get onto the floor until the 9:53 mark of the 2nd quarter and, for the night, he received only 12:34 minutes of playing time. Normally, I'd be screaming bloody murder, but Monty was right in limiting him. During the start of the ill-fated 20 point turnaround towards the end of the 3rd quarter, Aminu failing to close out properly and remain tough in the paint really helped the momentum of the game shift in the Sun's favor.
- Eric Gordon played like he found his heart lying on the streets of Phoenix: 21 points (on 10 shots), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 3 three's. He definitely got the best of Gerald Green, his counterpart.
- Monty Williams shocked the world tonight -- most of his rotations made sense. Against a good shooting small-ball team, he a) started Evans b) kept Steimsma on the bench and c) was correctly removing players for poor performance (Roberts/Aminu). Maybe it's clicked that his job is on the line?
- The Pelicans shot 53.8% from the floor, 38.5% from deep, 88.2% from the line and committed only 11 turnovers...but they still lost. Unfortunately, they gave up 50 points in the paint (Monty might already be 2nd guessing himself for keeping Steamer chained to the bench), 5 additional three's and a whopping 15 more free throws (thanks refs).
- Was quite a chippy game with players pushing each other throughout including this Channing Frye shove on Davis: