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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans travel to Phoenix to battle Suns

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It’s all about slowing down Devin Booker.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans will face the Phoenix Suns for a final time this season on Monday night. For the second straight night, the game will tip-off at 8:00 pm CST. Catch all the action on your choice of Fox Sports channel (New Orleans or Arizona), or tune to 99.5FM and listen to Sean Kelley describe all the play-by-play.

The Pelicans have previously taken two of the three meetings against the Suns and will try to make it a third on the shoulders of Jrue Holiday. When New Orleans starting point guard has been in the lineup against Phoenix this season, the Pelicans have walked away victorious. In the two wins, Holiday has stuffed the stat sheet, averaging 26.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.5 threes and 1.5 steals.

The Suns will ask Devin Booker to counter that production in the backcourt, and since the new year, he’s been up to the task most nights. The 20-year-old has averaged 24.7 points per game here in 2017, while adding 2.2 threes, 3.2 assists and 2.6 rebounds to boot.

Interestingly, when Booker torched the Pelicans for 38 points in the teams’ first meeting, the Suns won. In their two losses, he combined for 30 points. So, keeping Booker at bay might be New Orleans biggest key to the game.

Another thing to watch for will be the production from off the bench, especially when Anthony Davis and Holiday are resting. On the season, the Pelicans’ reserves average a healthy 38.5 points a game, good for 7th in the league, but here in February, that mark has dropped precipitously down to just 24.0 points.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of E’Twaun Moore, none of the other backcourt reserves are north of a 40% field goal percentage through six games this month. Tyreke Evans, in particular, has struggled immensely as evidenced by the 34.4/28.6/70.0 (FG%/3FG%/FT%) shooting line.

It is important to note that season splits indicate as goes Tyreke, so do the Pelicans. In the wins he’s played Evans is averaging a 46.7/43.2/100 line, but in losses — shield your eyes — a dreadful 34.2/17.9/64.3. Doesn’t it feel like his 29-point performance against the Nets occurred sometime last year instead of just this past month?

Anyways, geaux Pelicans!