Suns End Two Game Skid, Beat Pelicans 104-88
The Suns looked to end a two game skid on Friday night against a team they had already dropped two games to, the New Orleans Pelicans. The Suns needed to get going after tough losses to the Mavericks and Warriors, and looked to start working their way back towards an even amount of wins and losses. The Suns notch their 12th win of the season, and will look to get win number 13 on Sunday against Milwaukee.
The Suns started the game out slow, turning the ball over and taking contested shots. John Leuer was able to corral a missed shot and put the first points on the board for the Suns. After falling into a quick five point deficit, the Suns started to hit some shots, scoring or assisting on 18 of the next 24 points to finish the quarter. This included an 11-0 run that put the Suns in the lead, which became an 11 point lead at the end of the quarter. Markieff Morris got minutes halfway through the quarter, getting his first minutes in a game since December 8th against the Bulls. He was able to score five points on 2-3 shooting, with one of those shots being a three pointer to end the quarter. Bledsoe scored 11 points in the quarter, and added in three assists.
Alex Len was able to score his seventh and eighth points of the game on a tip in to start the second quarter, and Morris was able to add in another three pointer to make his own total eight. With Bledsoe getting some rest on the bench, the Pelicans were able to role off eight unanswered points, make the Suns lead drop to seven points. With Bledsoe and Len back in the game, the Suns were able to make another run, this time for nine points, and pushed the lead to 16 points. The Pelicans were able to cut the lead to ten due to some turnovers, but the Suns didn’t falter, and kept answering the short runs from the Pelicans. The Suns took an 11 point lead into the half with a score of 53-42. The Suns shot 23-43(53.5%) from the field, with 4-9(44.4%) coming from behind the arc in the first half. Bledsoe scored 17 points in the half, adding six assists, as well as two steals. Len added in 13 points of his own, grabbing nine rebounds and adding in two steals of his own.
The Suns continued to play aggressive, with Knight and Bledsoe scoring baseline layups. Because of the aggressiveness, the Pelicans were forced into early foul trouble, but the Suns couldn’t take advantage of being in the bonus. only shooting six free throws in seven and a half minutes of being in the bonus. Poor shooting on both sides of the ball lead to the Suns outscore the Pelicans 24-22 in the third, leading by a total of 13 points heading into the fourth.
The Pelicans continued to try and bring the Suns’ lead down to single digits, but the Suns wouldn’t let the lead drop below ten. Morris played three minutes into the fourth, and was able to draw a charge before Leuer was put back into the lineup. Knight was able to push the lead to 15 with a little under seven minutes left, hitting a three point shot off of a screen. The lead never dropped below ten in the quarter, with the final score being 104-88, with the final shot for the Suns being a shot from behind the arc by Len. The Suns will play the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, the first night of a back to back.
Bledsoe turned his poor performance against the Warriors the previous game into a performance that was a little more in line with his season so far. He scored 29 points on 12-17 shooting, with 1-3 from behind the arc and 4-5 from the free throw line. Bledsoe added in nine assists, four rebounds, and two steals. This is the type of game we can expect from him, and these numbers along with his strong defense should put him into the all star discussion.
Len was the second leading scorer tonight, dropping 19 points and adding in 13 rebounds off the bench. He even hit a three pointer at the end of the game, and it counted! Tyson Chandler may have got the start, but Len played 28 and a half minutes compared to Chandler’s 19 and a half. Len looks like he should start right now over Chandler, which could benefit both players. Len continues to be a hot hand, and Chandler is having a hard time getting into the flow of the offense. Chandler will continue to start, but we could see the minutes distributed more like tonight, instead of both having an equal number of minutes.
We had a Markieff Morris sighting tonight. Scoring 13 points off of 5-13 shooting, he hit two big shot from the three point line and drew a charge late in the game. We could see more minutes from Morris, whether it be to solidify a role as a go to scoring option off the bench, or if it’s to raise a possible trade stock. Morris plays well when he’s engaged, and getting production from him off the bench is something the Suns could use going forward.
Knight had a rough night, only scoring ten points on 4-11 shooting. He is going to have these kind of nights due to his streaky nature, and it won’t be too big of a negative as long as the Suns are winning. If the Suns lose too many games however, these type of games are going to start getting more attention.