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NBA Preview: Pelicans look to turn their season around against floundering Suns

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It’s a bottom feeders of the West showdown at Smoothie King Center to start the week.

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

Two teams that have been the epitome of struggle in the NBA this season face off on Monday night. The New Orleans Pelicans (19-32) and Phoenix Suns (16-35) have both gone 3-7 over their last 10 games, which is a trend they would like to see changed.

The two times these teams have played each other this season, the games have been decided in overtime by just one point. The Pelicans got the better of the Suns last time out, beating them 120-119, but back in November, Phoenix edged out New Orleans by a 112-111 margin. Surely we’re in for another real nail bitter!

The last time these two teams met, Tim Frazier led the Pelicans to victory with his first career triple-double; however, don’t expect him to contribute much if at all tomorrow as he has appeared in just 50 minutes since December 23.

The Pelicans will try to find every outlet of scoring they possibly can on this Phoenix Suns team that allows 112.6 points per game, which is second worst in the NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks proved this stat true Saturday night as they dominated the Suns in a 137-112 victory.

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

An interesting matchup to watch for in this game will be the two lasers at shooting guard, Buddy Hield and Devin Booker. Buddy has not proven that his three-point shot is as dominant in the NBA as it was at Oklahoma, but he still has an occasional solid night from beyond the arc. Hield is shooting 36 percent from three-point land overall, and has had four games where he’s topped four or more triples. One the other hand, Booker has solidified himself as one of the top scorers in the NBA, posing a threat from all over the floor. Although the Kentucky product is shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc, he’s been on a roll of late, totaling nine three pointers over his last two games. Keep your eye on these two sharpshooters, because if one of them catches fire, it will be bad news for the other team.

The Suns shot a surprising 45.8 percent from the field in their most recent loss to the Pelicans, though New Orleans did have the upper hand from the charity stripe with a 28-for-35 performance. The big negative for the Suns were the turnovers. They committed 16 of them and the Pelicans turned them into 16 points. The Suns have had trouble keeping control of the ball all season long, turning it over 15.6 times a game, the league’s third-worst mark.

The miscues are not a surprise as the Suns’ core is very youthful. Even though Phoenix got dismantled by the Bucks in their last game, Marquese Chriss had a career-high 27 points. The 6’-10’’ big man has been better of late and slamming down highlight dunks is not the only thing Chriss is good for, the Washington product has proven some versatility lies within his game. He can shoot the three ball quite well for a rookie forward, and is very elusive for his height.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

A very similar player to Chriss on the other side is Terrence Jones. At 6’-9’’ Jones can find many different ways to score, whether it be an open perimeter shot or hitting some difficult runner off the glass. Yep, the matchup at power forward should be another interesting matchup to see.

Believe it or not, the last playoff spot in the West is still up for grabs, and the Pelicans, despite their play of late, sit only 3.5 games out of the 8th seed. First things first though, New Orleans is going to start winning more games than they lose. Thirty-one games remain, but in reality, how the Pelicans finish over the next six games before the All-Star game will likely determine their fate for the rest of the season.

What: Pelicans vs Suns

Where: Smoothie King Center - New Orleans, LA

When: February 6, 2017 at 7:00PM Central

How: Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports Arizona, 99.5 FM WRNO