For the second time in three weeks, the New Orleans Pelicans dropped a game to the Phoenix Suns in overtime. Tonight’s 133-126 contest didn’t end as climactically as the first one, but we still witnessed a few clutch shots and head-scratching decisions.
Early in the third quarter, it was hard to imagine this game going down the wire as another nail-biter. With 9:27 left in the frame, the Pelicans led 84-69 as New Orleans offense had dominated the action since tip-off. A 150-point finish was in sight! Ian Clark resembled Steph Curry, Julius Randle was doing Julius Randle things and the team was deadly from three-point range and the free throw line.
That all changed in a flash.
The Pelicans didn’t score a single point over the next four minutes; the Suns, over the same time frame, added 17 points. That’s right, a Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Deandre Ayton-less Phoenix squad went on a 17-0 run to momentarily grab the lead.
Although the rest of the game was more closely contested, New Orleans still appeared on the precipice of a win. They led by five with less than four minutes to go and had numerous chances to go ahead down the stretch. Even the Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov made a charitable contribution.
Suns coach Igor Kokoskov drew a technical foul in the closing seconds of a game Phoenix led by one for getting this far on the court in anticipation of calling timeout after a free throw. The Suns did not secure the rebound. pic.twitter.com/LQAFmI5j5L— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) April 6, 2019
However, Josh Jackson’s offense and Dragan Bender’s block party happened. It also didn’t help matters that Julius Randle missed three consecutive free throws inside of two minutes. Although Julius would go on to finish with 31 points and 14 rebounds, shooting blanks from the charity stripe and getting two of his final three shots in regulation rejected by Bender proved to be pivotal.
Despite these negatives, Solomon Hill had a chance to put the Pelicans ahead with less than 10 seconds left, but he missed an open three. The Suns would fail to convert on their offensive possession, too.
In overtime, Jackson added eight points — this, after scoring seven inside the final five minutes of regulation — while the Pelicans offense struggled to keep pace. The Suns wound up coasting to the aforementioned 133-126 victory.
In addition to Randle’s stat line, Ian Clark enjoyed a great night individually, scoring a season-high 24 points and adding four threes, four rebounds and four assists. Christian Wood (17 points, five rebounds) and Cheick Diallo (12 points, 11 rebounds) made nice positive impacts when in the game, but they only accounted for 16 and 23 minutes respectively. Elfrid Payton posted a 14-point, 12-assist and five-rebound line.
For the Suns, Josh Jackson was impressive in his 46 minutes: 35 points, 5-8 from three-point range, nine rebounds and five assists. Jamal Crawford added 28 points and seven assists off the bench, but Dragan Bender likely had the most eye-popping line of the night: 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, seven blocks and six personal fouls.
Despite the loss, most Pelican die-hards were happy with the result. The loss moved the Pelicans into a tie for the 7th worst record in the league, and thus for the time being, increased the team’s odds of landing a top draft pick. From the latest board on Tankathon:
Up next, the New Orleans Pelicans fly to Sacramento and face the Kings on Sunday night.