You’ve just got to feel bad for Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker and Tyson Chandler.
Three hard-nosed dudes with the Phoenix Suns couldn’t quite get it done and the Anthony Davis-led Pelicans won 110-108 in a wild finish Monday night in Phoenix. Davis had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks and his late shot-making, much as it did last night, proved to be the difference.
#sunspelicans version 4.0 featured 18 ties and 26 lead changes, but it was a fun game between two bottom-feeders. Generally, the Pelicans spread the ball around more and quicker than usual, resulting in a more balanced effort. In a strange statistical anomaly, after the third quarter all non-AD Pelicans had either 5 or 8 field goal attempts in the box score. Illuminati-level stuff, guys.
With Terrence Jones still out due to injury and Dante Cunningham accompanying his wife for the birth of their baby (congrats!), the Pels had to search for a fifth starter. Tonight it was Alexis Ajinca who faced off in a classic duel against Alex Len. It sure appeared both were being “featured” as players commonly are shortly before they’re traded. Both fan bases can only hope.
Len actually made a few tough shots in the first half and had 10 early points — he took some of those same shots in the second half and they didn’t fall, because, well, he’s not very good.
Speaking of not very good:
Despite the defensive lapse, Tyreke Evans looked better than he has most of this year, finishing with 15 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists while Jrue Holiday had 18 and 8 assists. Solomon Hill came to play (12 points, 7-8 FT), and E’Twuan Moore added 15.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe delivered the most special performance tonight with 37 points and 5 assists, but had a crucial couple of misses in the waning moments to either take the lead or tie the game. PJ Tucker had 11 points and 16 rebounds and battled AD all night, but his efforts were not rewarded in clutch time. Read below.
The last ~3 minutes
With Nola down 2, Tyreke hit a tough stepback with Tucker right in his face and then E’Twuan Moore came up with a clutch steal and layup to make it a quick 4-0 run to give the Pels another lead. After a Phoenix miss, Nola did what they do: use AD’s speed and footwork to get him an open shot (Tucker and Chandler screwed up here) on the baseline. He cashed it and the Pels were up 4 and feeling good. But Bledsoe made a couple more buckets and Jrue dribbled the ball out of bounds — it wasn’t gonna be easy — and suddenly it was tied again.
After a badly missed Tyreke three, Jrue Holiday tapped out an offensive rebound in his best Tyson Chandler impersonation and AD made a floater to put the Pels up 2 yet again. This time, Bledsoe went for the jugular and drained a 3 to put Phoenix back up 108-107 with 58.1 left.
This game was truly back-and-forth.
After another bad Tyreke shot, this time at the rim, Davis gathered the offensive rebound in traffic and made a tough finish over Tucker and others to give the birds the lead with 40.3 left. Bledsoe finally missed a step-back two and the Suns fouled ‘Reke with 18.4 left... but he only made 1, giving Nola a 2-point lead and PHX one last chance... or maybe like 4 last chances.
With 16.8 seconds to go, Bledsoe used his speed and footwork to get an open 3 footer: miss; PJ Tucker rebound and wild putback: miss (although he was probably fouled by Davis); another Tucker rebound and attempt from 6 feet: miss; finally, Solo grabbed the rebound, Jrue dribbled it out and it was over.
Pelicans win! (Phew.)
And, in one final joke from the basketball gods, Anthony Davis was left laying on the hardwood after taking a Tyson Chandler swipe to his male parts during the melee - Kings center DeMarcus Cousins had the same feeling last night from Buddy Hield’s mis-placed hand. As the League Pass broadcast ended, AD was able to laugh off the pain with Coach Alvin Gentry and Pelicans head of security Randy Greenup. Turns out winning will cover up anything, even that lower stomach pain from getting hit in the balls.