The Phoenix Suns continue to firm their dominance in the Western Conference, delivering their third straight double-digit win with a 124-111 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
It was another impressive performance from the Suns, despite facing a shorthanded Pelicans team who were without three starters in Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Herbert Jones. Phoenix weren’t without their concerns though, with starting big man Deandre Ayton ruled out of the game with an ankle injury after less than eight minutes.
The Phoenix Suns bench once again produced plenty in the team’s 13-point win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Footprint Center on Friday night.
Given the Pelicans compromised roster, Phoenix went in heavy favourites after comprehensive victories over the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. New Orleans’ deep team weren’t to be taken lightly though, and they showed exactly why as a discombobulated Suns offense was kept to just 21 first-quarter points thanks to a number of turnovers and poor three-point shooting.
But the Suns bench, led by strong performances from Torrey Craig and Cameron Payne, quickly ate into an early deficit. The teams traded baskets during the middle of the quarter before Phoenix gained slight control late in the half, taking in a 57-52 lead.
The Pelicans made a push early in the third, aided by an inefficient night for Devin Booker while All-Star backcourt teammate, Chris Paul, was hounded by now renowned rival Jose Alvarado. With that pair relatively quiet and Ayton out of the game, the Suns turned to their wings in Bridges and Johnson to provide the spark.
After New Orleans had nabbed a 78-75 lead, Phoenix ended the third on an 18-5 run thanks to a lineup of Payne, Booker, Landry Shamet, Bridges and Jock Landale. The ten-point lead was never threatened and got out to 18 points at one stage in the fourth.
Bridges finished the night with a season-high 27 points on an extremely efficient 10-for-13 shooting, also adding four assists and three blocks in a complete display. Booker and Johnson each finished with 16 points, but it was the bench who provided the heroism in this one.
Every Suns starter outside Booker was a negative plus-minus, while in contrast, Shamet, Landale, Payne and Damion Lee were each at least a +13. Payne had 12 points and five assists with Craig a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor for 13 points to go with six rebounds. Bismack Biyombo, getting an opportunity thanks to the Ayton injury, produced an 11-point, 13-rebound double-double in just 23 minutes.
Phoenix had 14 offensive rebounds and shot 52.2% from the field, an impressive achievement given they were held to just 30.3% from three-point range. The Pelicans were hot from three in comparison, yet shot just 44.2% from the field overall.
The win takes the Suns to 4-1 on the season and second in the early conference standings, with a matchup against a young, exciting Houston Rockets team scheduled for Sunday.