Postgame wrap: Pelicans 119, Suns 99
Pelicans (6-6), Suns (2-10)
One more key name was added to New Orleans’ inactive list Saturday, but it didn’t stop the Pelicans from earning a long-awaited and greatly-welcomed decisive victory against Phoenix. With Nikola Mirotic (ankle) joining Elfrid Payton (ankle) as a DNP due to injury, New Orleans went up by double digits in the first half and posted its first win by 10 points or more since Oct. 19, a 20-point home triumph over Sacramento.
The Pelicans won a second straight game following a six-game losing skid, moving back to .500 overall entering next week's road trip to Toronto and Minnesota. New Orleans also improved to 5-1 at home, with its only defeat coming in an Anthony Davis-less game Oct. 27 vs. Utah.
For a second straight game, New Orleans held its opponent under 100 points, keyed by limiting Phoenix star guard Devin Booker to 4/11 shooting and 12 points (three of those came on a halfcourt shot at the third-quarter buzzer).
“I thought we played well, moved the basketball, did a lot of good things,” Alvin Gentry said. “Jrue (Holiday) was sensational on Booker. You’re not going to guard him any better than that. Jrue did as good a job as you’re ever going to do on that kid.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
E’Twaun Moore cut to the basket for an uncontested layup in the halfcourt offense, giving New Orleans a 111-93 lead with 3:38 remaining. Holiday handed out his ninth assist on the Moore slash to the hoop, causing Phoenix to call timeout and prompting many fans to head for the Smoothie King Center exits.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Mirotic’s first injury absence of the season shifted Julius Randle into a starting role Saturday. Whether he’s been a starter or a reserve coming off the bench, Randle is in the midst of an excellent stretch of offensive efficiency and rebounding, rolling to 22 points and 16 rebounds (seven offensive boards) against the Suns. Before finally cooling off a bit in the second half, Randle was in the midst of a stretch of connecting on 17 of 19 two-point tries, highlighted by a 10/10 shooting night Monday in Oklahoma City. Davis added 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
“(There is) no real difference,” Randle said on postgame radio, when asked if he approach changes as a starter. “My role stays the same. Be aggressive, take what’s there, create for myself and others, fly around on the defensive end. My mindset doesn’t change.”
POSITIONAL FOCUS: BENCH
Randle’s move to the first unit left the second string without its normal primary option offensively, requiring others to fill that void. Darius Miller, Cheick Diallo and Ian Clark combined to score 23 points on 8/16 shooting, including Miller and Clark combining to sink half of their eight three-point attempts. Diallo had one of his best nights of the young season, contributing seven points and nine rebounds, in just 18 minutes of action. Diallo entered Saturday’s contest as New Orleans’ No. 1 rebounder on a per-minute basis and only improved his numbers in that category. Further down the rotation, Tim Frazier continued to log minutes at backup point guard, ahead of rookie Frank Jackson on the depth chart (Jackson and Jahlil Okafor played 1:47 apiece after the outcome was decided). Undrafted rookie Kenrich Williams has begun to see stints on the floor during the first half of games and this time played 4:55 vs. the Suns. Overall, the bench did a solid job of maintaining or extending the lead Saturday as the starters rested. New Orleans never trailed.
BY THE NUMBERS
56-46: New Orleans advantage in points in the paint. Neither team was very prolific from three-point range, meaning the Western Conference matchup was decided around the rim and at the foul line (Pelicans led 24-19 in made free throws).
12/12: Speaking of the foul line, Davis had a parade to the charity stripe, canning all of his dozen attempts there.
28, 18: Assists and turnovers for New Orleans, a good news/bad news scenario. The Pelicans want to be above or near 30 assists each game, but they’d like to keep their turnovers under 15. Fortunately for New Orleans, Phoenix’s mistakes were even more costly, with 17 turnovers leading to 25 New Orleans points.
Pelicans vs Suns Postgame: Anthony Davis 11-10-18
Game 12: Pelicans vs. Suns 11/10/18
Head Coach Alvin Gentry speaks with the media after the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Phoenix Suns 119-99 on Saturday, November 10, 2018 at the Smoothie King Center.
Guard Jrue Holiday speaks with the media after the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Phoenix Suns 119-99 on Saturday, November 10, 2018 at the Smoothie King Center.
Anthony Davis racks up a double-double with 26 points and 13 rebounds as the Pelicans beat the Suns, 119-99.
Pelicans Jrue Holiday talks with Joel Meyers and David Wesley about the team's 119-99 win over the Suns.
Pelicans Wesley Johnson runs the floor and collects the give-and-go pass for the slam.
Pelicans Anthony Davis collects the alley-oop pass from Ian Clark for the slam.
Pelicans Anthony Davis and Julius Randle protect the paint with a pair of monster blocks.
Pelicans Jrue Holiday drives to the rim and taps it home the second chance bucket.