Pelicans.com postgame: Suns 104, Pelicans 98
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
New Orleans entered Tuesday’s game as the most accurate three-point shooting team in the NBA, connecting on an outstanding 50 percent of its attempts through one week of play. Meanwhile, Phoenix ranked near the bottom of the league in the statistic. You never would’ve known it by watching the Suns in action on Tuesday.
Led by one of the best shooting games of fill-in starter Gerald Green’s NBA career, Phoenix (3-1) went 12-for-25 from three-point range, rallying from an early double-digit deficit to prevail on New Orleans’ home floor. Green (6-for-10 on threes) was a gameday replacement in the Phoenix starting lineup for point guard Goran Dragic, who’s sidelined by a left ankle sprain. Rising Suns star Eric Bledsoe also did major damage to the Pelicans by repeatedly getting into the lane for point-blank attempts, resulting in a 10-for-12 outing from the field and 25 points. Phoenix capped a 37-point eruption in the third quarter by making 13 of its final 16 shots of the period, including six consecutive three-pointers.
The Pelicans (1-3) dropped the first game of a back-to-back set that continues Wednesday at Memphis (2-2).
New Orleans started quickly, building a 28-17 edge through a quarter, but Phoenix whittled away at the lead and gained the upper hand with a 37-point third period. The Suns outscored the Pelicans by a 61-41 margin in the middle quarters, turning an 11-point deficit into a nine-point advantage.
“We had a good first quarter, but after that I think we went away from the things that are necessary for us to be good,” Pelicans fourth-year head coach Monty Williams said. “We weren’t as connected as we were against Charlotte (a 21-point win for New Orleans on Saturday). We had a great start, but we just didn’t sustain it.”
Williams attributed some of the Pelicans’ problems slowing down the Suns’ three-point attack to not keeping Phoenix’s guards from getting by the first line of defense. With Bledsoe and backup point guard Ish Smith (8 assists in just 16 minutes) in attack mode all night, the Suns were able to create open shots. In addition to Green’s six three-pointers, five other Suns players connected on at least one trifecta. Twin brothers Markieff and Marcus Morris combined to tally 33 points off the bench for a team that is off to a surprising start to 2013-14.
“The ball was getting to the basket, and then we’ve got to go help,” Williams described of how Phoenix was setting up its three-point shooters. “We had too many guys going to help because we had to (defend) the ball. That’s on me. We teach a certain way to play pick-and-roll defense, and Bledsoe just ate it up tonight.”
Offensively, five Pelicans reached double digits in scoring, but only Brian Roberts (17 points on 7-for-14 shooting) and Jason Smith (13 points, 5-for-7 shooting) did so while making half of their shots. Eric Gordon sparked New Orleans with a big first half and led the team overall by scoring 20 points, while Anthony Davis notched another double-double at 17 points and 11 rebounds. Anthony Morrow continued his solid early-season shooting by posting 10 points (2-for-4 on three-pointers).