Oubre Scores 25 Points, Suns Comeback Falls Just Short vs Pelicans
After falling to the Sacramento Kings in the final seconds a few nights prior, the Phoenix Suns were in another tight battle on Thursday that came down to the wire against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday.
The team was without Deandre Ayton (suspension), Ricky Rubio (back spasms) and Aron Baynes (hip flexor strain) as Tyler Johnson and Frank Kaminsky filled the starting spots at point guard and center. With another new starting lineup, the Suns were going to need time adjusting to the players around them.
The Pelicans went up by as many as 12 in the first quarter, but nine points from Cam Johnson off the bench, including three three-pointers, brought the Suns deficit to just five entering the second quarter. This was his sixth straight game making multiple three-pointers—the longest streak making 2+ triples by a Suns rookie since Michael Finley did so in six straight in 1995-96. Johnson now has 24 three-pointers through his first 12 career games, the most ever by a Suns rookie through 12 career games.
The Suns flipped the narrative in the second quarter as they battled back and regained the lead while locking down defensively. Kelly Oubre Jr. led the way for the Suns, scoring 11 points in just the second quarter, including a three-pointer in the final second of the first half. The Suns outscored the Pelicans 33-21 in the second and took a seven-point lead into halftime.
However, J.J. Reddick caught fire in the third as the NBA veteran scored 12 points and helped give the Pelicans a one-point lead entering the fourth. The Pelicans continued their run into the fourth, opening up a nine-point lead early as hope started to dwindle for the Suns.
But similar to their game against the Kings, the Suns weren’t willing to back down. Led by Devin Booker, the Suns clawed their way back and cut the deficit to just two points with just over two minutes left in the game. Brandon Ingram responded to the Suns run as he went on a personal 7-0 run of his own to put the Pelicans back up by nine with less than a minute to play.
The Suns still weren’t ready to quit. Cam Johnson scored six points in the final minute to bring the Suns to within three, but it was too little too late as the Pelicans got the victory, 124-121.
Kelly Oubre Jr.: 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
Devin Booker: 19 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds
Cam Johnson: 14 points, 3-4 3P, 2 steals
Frank Kaminsky: 14 points, 5 rebounds
Mikal Bridges: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
Elie Okobo: 11 points, 7 assists, 1 steal
Tyler Johnson: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
The Suns shot 13-of-31 from three-point range. This was the Suns’ 12th straight game making double-digit three-pointers, extending the longest streak in team history.
The Suns had six different players record 5+ rebounds including all five of their starters.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
HEAD COACH MONTY WILLIAMS ON VALUING EVERY POSSESSION: “It’s our ‘hard’ right now. That’s the hard thing we have to understand, that all of that stuff that happens in the beginning, it puts you in a bind. There was a bit of a lull offensively in the third quarter where the pace wasn’t what it normally is, and I think we just may have had a letdown with our intensity because we just didn’t have the burst that we had in the second. It’s a learning process, it’s a thing that we have to have more reps together. We have so many guys in and out of the lineup, it does affect you, but we had the momentum, so there’s really no excuse for that.”
MIKAL BRIDGES: “This is kind of our first time hitting adversity, losing three in a row, and now we’re on the road for two tough games back-to-back so we’re going to see how we’re going to go out there and play. I think we’re mentally strong and we’re together as a team so I think we’re going to push through and play hard the next few games and try to leave out there with a W but it’s going to test our mentality and see what we’re going to be right now.”
KELLY OUBRE JR. ON ELIE OKOBO: “Elie stays ready. Elie’s always ready for an opportunity to come. I make sure that I can help him out as much as possible, but he stays ready.”
The Suns hit the road as the team prepares to tip-off against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. Be sure to catch the action on TNT.