Suns Win Overtime Thriller in Final Home Game of the Season

Jamal Crawford Mikal Bridges
by Cody Cunningham

Undermanned and with a short rotation, the Phoenix Suns battled together and won an overtime thriller in their final home game of the 2018-19 season on Friday.

The Suns were without Richaun Holmes (left ankle sprain), Deandre Ayton (left ankle sprain), Devin Booker (left ankle sprain), Tyler Johnson (right knee), Kelly Oubre Jr. (left thumb) and T.J. Warren (right ankle soreness) as the team tipped-off against the New Orleans Pelicans.

It was a tale of two halves for the Suns as the first half was full of offense, but allowed the Pelicans to take a double-digit lead into the break as both teams were shooting over 50 percent from the field. The Suns switched things up as they came out of halftime locked-in on defense and quickly turned those defensive stops into offensive production.

Starting at the nine-minute mark, Ray Spalding tipped in a layup and the Suns took off running from there. The team went on a 16-0 run to turn a 15-point deficit into a one-point lead and found themselves right back in the ball game.

It became a back-and-forth battle as neither team could find the advantage, but with three minutes remaining the Suns found themselves down by five and in need of someone to step up.

Josh Jackson answered the call.

Jackson drove for a layup to make it a one-possession game and then followed that up with another hook shot to bring the deficit to just one.

Julius Randle responded with a two of his own and the Suns found themselves back in the three-point hole. That was until Jackson stepped up, again.

Jamal Crawford found Jackson from beyond the arc as the second-year pro launched a three-pointer to tie the game at 115. But it was once again Randle knocking down a free throw to regain the lead for the Pelicans.

De’Anthony Melton pushed the lead back in the Suns favor with a putback, but that was then matched with a technical free throw from Ian Clark.

OVERTIME.

Jackson continued his success from the fourth quarter into the overtime as he scored eight of the Suns 16 points in extra time. Jackson’s scoring mixed in with Dragan Bender’s defense allowed for the Suns to easily put away the Pelicans in overtime with a 133-126 victory.

This was the Suns fourth comeback win of the season after trailing by at least 15 points and their second time defeating the Pelicans in overtime in less than a month.

Jackson scored a season-high 35 points, finishing just one-point shy of his career-high. He also tallied nine rebounds, five assists and two steals in the win.

Bender dominated the defensive side of the court with a Suns season-high seven blocks to go along with his 11 points and 10 rebounds. He became the first Sun with 10-plus points and rebounds and 5-plus assists and blocks since Danny Manning in 1995.

“He had a tough job tonight guarding Julius Randle,” Jackson said about Bender. “It’s not easy but it’s a job we know he could do. He stepped up, did everything he could. Rebounded for us tremendously tonight, blocked a lot of shots. We really needed his presence tonight.”

With so many players out for the Suns, it opened up the door for guys like Ray Spalding and the big man took advantage of the opportunity. He scored 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting while also notching his first-career double-double with 13 rebounds. Spalding also put in the work on defense with three steals and three blocks.

“Happy for him,” Crawford said. “He couldn’t have played any better. I think his first game was actually in New Orleans. Funny how things work out. I’m just happy for him, he deserves it. He’s such a worker, he’s such a great kid, he has such great character. I’m happy for him.”

Crawford did what he does best by providing a huge spark off the bench. He scored a season-high 28 points and became the oldest Sun ever to score over 25 points in a game (passing Grant Hill). He also put up seven assists and grabbed three steals in the win.

“Just whatever it took,” Crawford said. “I just think, with it being a trying season, fans need something to hold onto. What better way than our last home game? You saw the energy after the game, everybody still there. It felt good. Whatever it took, it wasn’t about me at all.” 

Crawford is the oldest player to record 25-plus points and 7-plus assists since Michael Jordan had 25 points and seven assists for the Wizards in 2003 at 40 years old.

The Suns recorded a total of 12 steals and 11 blocks while only turning the ball over on a season-low seven turnovers. This was the first game in Suns history with 10-plus blocks and steals and fewer than 10 turnovers according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

While the Suns finished up their season at home, they will hit the road for their final two games of the year. Their first stop will be in Houston on Sunday as the team tips off against the Rockets. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.

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