The New Orleans Pelicans (12-16) host the Phoenix Suns (17-10) Friday night as they look to get themselves back on track after a gut check loss at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers last time out.
The hope is the late game failures from Wednesday’s loss translate into a valuable teaching moment, one in which Stan Van Gundy’s men pocket away and execute stronger down the stretch next time out. That said, battling against a Suns team which is playing really well next — they’ve won nine of their last 11 games — New Orleans will certainly have to be up for the challenge.
The Suns are entering with a 17-10 record which sees them as the current 5th seed in the Western Conference. Under head coach Monty Williams, they are well on track to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2009/10 season. (The man in charge back then? None other than former Pels head coach Alvin Gentry.)
To sum up the vast improvement of this Suns team under Williams, they are just two wins away from equaling the same amount of wins they had in all of the 2018/19 season where they finished 19-63.
Phoenix will be no stranger to the Pels as Friday’s contest marks the third time the two teams will square off this season, so far with each team taking a game a piece.
The first meeting in Phoenix belonged to the Suns as they blew out the Pels 111-86 thanks to a 35-15 second quarter and a 34-17 third quarter. The Pelicans held the Suns to just 11 in the fourth while putting up 25 points, but the Suns held on to claim victory. Zion led the team in scoring with 20 points that night and Brandon Ingram finished with 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.
The second game between the two teams took place at the Smoothie King Center just 16 days ago and the 123-101 win for the Pelicans was the first in what would be a four-game winning streak. Leading the way once again was Zion, who finished with 28 points, seven boards, six dimes and a steal. The big man was the certainly the highlight player, but as a team the Pelicans were locked in. SVG’s team held Phoenix to just 8-of-35 from three (22.9%) and cashed in 17 points on 14 forced turnovers.
New Orleans has claimed victory in 14 of the last 22 meetings with the Suns while three of the last six have needed overtime for a winner to be decided.
Friday’s game will be far from a walk in the park for the Pels, but if they are to win the game, then the defense will be the first place to start. If the Pelicans can restrict the impact that Phoenix’s All-Stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul can have on the game — as they did at the start of the month — then a win for the home team should go into the books. Easier said then done, I know.
Pelicans: Steven Adams is doubtful with a right ankle sprain.
Phoenix: Suns have no players listed on their Thursday official injury update.
Pelicans: Eric Bledsoe, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Steven Adams?
Phoenix: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Frank Kaminsky III, DeAndre Ayton
Where to watch/listen
Who: New Orleans Pelicans (12-16) vs Phoenix Suns (17-10)
When: February 19, 7:00 p.m. Central
Where to watch: FSNO
Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM
Enjoy the game and Go Pels!