Anthony Davis missed tonight's game for the struggling Pelicans, and it looked like the Suns had a chance to pull away early as New Orleans scored only 14 first quarter points. Then the Suns allowed the Pelicans to win the second and fourth quarters behind surprisingly strong bench play, and the Suns had to sweat it out in the end before finally vanquishing their shorthanded foes.
Tonight's game won't be sent to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame for display. An injured and overmatched New Orleans Pelicans team gave the Suns all they could handle, as the Suns looked discombobulated and short on energy for most of the game before finally securing the critical 94-88 win.
Eric Bledsoe was scoreless until nearly midway through the third quarter before exploding for 12 points in the quarter, ending up with 16 points and 6 assists. Gerald Green continued his scorching play with 21, and Goran Dragic and P.J. Tucker chipped in 20 and 15, respectively.
This game was a lot more difficult than it should have been for the Suns. New Orleans is 13 games below .500, had lost 5 straight going into tonight's game, and played without rising star Anthony Davis, out with a back injury. Nevertheless, the Suns struggled through a terrible second quarter, losing that period 32-24, and then trailing with 88-87 with 1:56 remaining in the game before the Suns sealed it with a 7-0 run.
The Pelicans were led by their bench, and strong performances from Jeff Withey, Anthony Morrow, Luke Babbitt and Austin Rivers. That isn't exactly a murderer's row there, but the Suns played an uneven game and, outside of Green, none of the Phoenix bench players could find a rhythm, nor could Channing Frye (4 points on 2-8 shooting).
With the win, the Suns maintain their 1 game lead on the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8th seed in the Western Conference playoff race. In the end, we won't remember this game for anything but the W, and that's enough. A loss tonight would have been catastrophic, and the Suns avoided that.
We can choose to see it that they mailed in tonight's performance, and that is inexcusable for a team in the Suns must-win position. Or we could see it that the Suns had an off night, yet still found a way to pull out the crucial win in the end, making all the plays down the stretch in that 7-0 to end the game.
Unfortunately, the Miami Heat were not able to help the Suns, losing to the Grizzlies 107-102, so the Suns failed to gain a game in the playoff race.