On the heels of a 27-5 run to begin the fourth quarter, the Suns flipped an 11-point deficit into an 11-point lead in just over seven minutes of action. New Orleans couldn’t buy a bucket. They became stagnant on offense. Turnovers? They had plenty of those to spare at the most inopportune times. Phoenix had no such issues, though, hitting five threes (three by Jae Crowder). By the time the carnage was over, the Pelicans had checked out, failing to muster any kind of retaliatory response.
What’s interesting to note is that New Orleans had been good front runners entering tonight. They had an 11-2 record on the season when entering fourth quarters with a lead. And it looked like their 12th win in 14 tries would soon to be etched in stone after having won each of the first three quarters, displaying good offensive consistency throughout.
Winding up on the wrong end of a 41-12 fourth quarter thrashing is ulcer inducing to say the least. It resulted in a wayward record getting entered not just in franchise history...
Pelicans were minus-29 in the 4th (41-12), it was the worst differential for a single quarter in franchise history.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) February 20, 2021
...but in NBA history, too.
From @EliasSports: The Pelicans' 18-point loss is the worst by ANY team in the shot clock era (since 1954-55) that led by 10+ entering the 4th quarter.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) February 20, 2021
Previously, three teams (2015-16 Blazers, 2006-07 Timberwolves, 1985-86 Bulls) had lost by 17 when entering the final period.
Zion Williamson (23 points, five rebound, four assists), Brandon Ingram (25 points, two steals) and Lonzo Ball (21 points, 12 assists, three steals, two blocks) were all headed for better statistical games than they finished with. Zion was unstoppable, Zo was dishing and hitting threes, and B.I.’s jumper was on fire in the middle of the game. The vaunted trio managed to close out quieter than a mouse, combining to score just two points and add two dimes during the final 12 minutes of regulation.
On the other side of the floor, the defense was largely acceptable through three frames, surviving barrages from unheralded guys like Frank Kaminsky and E’Twaun Moore, but the floodgates burst wide open in the fourth. As it’s become a common theme by opponents on the season, Phoenix finished with 22 made threes, connecting at a blistering pace of 56.4% from the outside.
Related to the action seen on Wednesday against the Trail Blazers, a really good second quarter gave the Pelicans a not so insignificant lead at intermission. Four of the five Pelicans starters were in double figures, with 14 points from Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram each leading the way. However, dissimilar to their loss versus Portland, New Orleans began the third quarter with good fight, returning punches well after Zion took his first rest of the 2nd half.
Maybe poor production from the bench caught up with the Pelicans. Kira Lewis failed to make a single field goal, finishing 0-8 from the floor. Jaxson Hayes had a couple of highlight worthy dunks, but he was a mess the rest of the time — three turnovers and five personal fouls in 20 minutes of action tells that story.
Either way, the Pelicans have now lost five of their last six games, and it doesn’t get any easier Sunday, with the Boston Celtics coming to town.