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.
Dallas takes care of business and the stretch run begins.
Can you guys believe that one week from tonight the NBA's regular season ends? Really no reason to get all weepy now though as the next 8 nights are probably going to be ridiculous night after ridiculous night.
So lets all dig in, band together and fly wildly and aimlessly towards our goal like an Ish Smith three point attempt.
Tuesday April 8th Key Western Conference Results:
Dallas Mavericks 95 Utah Jazz 83 (Recap) - Dallas made 94.1% of their shots in the 1st quarter (16/17) on their way to a 39-25 lead and never looked back. Dirk Nowitzki shockingly lead the Mavericks with 21 points (on 9/11 shooting) and in the process passed Oscar Robertson for 10th on the NBA's all-time scoring list - which is insane. 5 other Mavericks scored in double figures - including the apparently flame retardant Vince Carter who scored 13.
The Mavs now have just three games remaining in their season starting with the Tony Parker-less Spurs on Thursday. At least the Jazz will no longer figure in the playoff race.
Current Western Conference Standings:
|2. Oklahoma City
|3. LA Clippers
|4. Houston||52||25||.675||7.5||7-3||WON 3|
|6. Golden State
Wednesday April 9th Western Conference Games of Significance:
Suns @ Pelicans - Yes it's a road game, and yes the Pelicans have one of the 10 best players in the NBA, but no - there is no excuse for the Suns losing this game. Eric Gordon continues to be out for New Orleans and considering that he had 21 points on 7/10 shooting the last time our teams played I'm booking this as a good thing. As for the aforementioned top 10 player in the NBA - he's been dealing with back spasms and Monty Williams seemed to acknowledge he wasn't his normal self in the Pelicans last game.
Reports suggest Davis will play through the pain tonight but as a concerned citizen I would suggest he go ahead and take the night off.
Heat @ Grizzlies - Unlike many people, I actually really like the Miami Heat. I credit it to such a ridiculous amount of hate being thrown the way of LeBron James - a once in a generation player - that I can't help but adopt the contrarian position. But even if you hate the Heat you sure as hell better be rooting for them tonight. After this game Memphis has walk over dates with the 76ers and Lakers before coming to the Valley next Monday. If Memphis loses to Miami and the Suns take care of all Pelican related business, the Suns will have a 2 game lead with 4 to play.
Dwayne Wade probably remains out for the Heat but hopefully they come in motivated as their lead on Indiana for the top seed in the East is just half a game after Miami's loss to Brooklyn last night.