Despite the faster style of play in the league, this marks the second-straight game New Orleans held an opponent under 100 points and the first victory by double digits since the home opener against Sacramento on Oct. 19. Four of the five starters scored in double figures, and the offense moved the ball well enough to assist on 66 percent of its made field goals.
“Everybody started clicking,” Anthony Davis said. “Guys are making shots. Guys are making plays and playing for each other. When we’re doing that, everybody getting back into rhythm, back into a groove, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Julius Randle entered the starting lineup in place of Mirotic, who was out due to a sprained ankle, for the first time this season. He provided a necessary spark on offense, finishing with 22 points and 15 boards. Alongside Randle in the frontcourt, Davis added a game-high 26 points to go with 13 rebounds, six assists and two blocks.
2018 No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton combined with TJ Warren to produce 45 points and 17 rebounds in a formidable showing for the Suns’ frontcourt. However, it was star Devin Booker who could not be found.
Jrue Holiday embraced the tough assignment of defending Booker, limiting the scoring guard to a 12-point night in over 34 minutes played. Offensively, Holiday still commanded the point guard position with 19 points and 9 assists — all in a day’s work.
“Jrue was sensational on Booker,” head coach Alvin Gentry said. “You’re not going to guard him any better than that. If you think about the fact he was 4-for-11, one of them was the 50-foot three-point shot. On the other ones, he had problems getting them off on Jrue. I thought Jrue did as good a job as you’re going to do on that kid.”
New Orleans picks up the win, its fifth in six chances inside the Smoothie King Center, before returning to the road for games against the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 12 and the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 14. The Jimmy Butler saga may be over, but Robert Covington and Dario Saric joining forces with Karl-Anthony Towns, among others, could present a challenge.
“We’ve got a tough road trip ahead of us,” Gentry said. “We’re probably playing one of the top two or three best teams in the league in Toronto. It’ll be interesting to see Minnesota. It’ll be a completely different look and a completely different team.”