Once again, two stars stepped up in a game where the Phoenix Suns needed three, as the losing streak grew to four after falling in New Orleans 129-124 in overtime.
If you are going by contracts, the Phoenix Suns have four stars on their team, with Mikal Bridges, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, and Devin Booker all making over $20 million per year. Given the average NBA salary is $7.5, and three other Suns’ players – Dario Saric, Landry Shamet, and Jae Crowder – make more than the average, it is up to the four stars to carry the team.
On Sunday, Devin Booker was rested after it was revealed he has been nursing a hamstring injury, which would help explain his poor shooting over the last several games. However, even without Booker, the Suns have three stars, which should be enough to beat most teams if they all show up big. However, for the second straight game against New Orleans, only two stars played like it, and the Pelicans swallowed up the Suns.
Ayton is again stepping up for the Suns
Deandre Ayton recorded a double-double for the 11th time in the Suns’ last 15 games. His 28 points led the Suns in scoring, and his 12 rebounds were a game-high. Ayton was especially active on the offensive end, grabbing six offensive rebounds and dishing out five assists against only one turnover.
The problem against the Pelicans for Ayton was foul trouble, which hurt the Suns down the stretch. His last bucket and the shot came with over nine minutes left in the game, as this fifth and then later his sixth foul kept him from being a factor down the stretch.
Bridges broke out for Phoenix against New Orleans
Bridges again found his scoring rhythm against the Pelicans. After scoring 28 points in the Suns’ last three games combined, Mikal hit for 27 on Sunday, including five three-pointers. Given Booker was out, the Suns needed someone to pick up the scoring, and hitting for a dozen more than his 15-point season average was picking up that slack.
Mikal was an ironman against the Pelicans, playing 45 of the 48 minutes yet only committing one turnover and picking up one foul. Of course, between Ayton and CP3, there were not many fouls left to give.
Paul’s performance was not vintage for the Suns in the loss
Although Ayton and Bridges both came to play, with their 55 combined points helping the Suns match up to 64 from zion Williams and CJ McCollum for New Orleans. However, CP3 was off his game, costing the Suns the win.
Paul was good with the ball, dishing out 11 assists against just three turnovers in 34 minutes. However, his 3-10 shooting, including 0-3 from three-point range, left a mark. It was especially poor, considering Paul fouled out on his last three-point attempt.
Yes, in a call that ultimately cost the Suns the game, Paul fouled out on a three-point attempt he was taking.
Williamson had already closed out hard on Paul and not been called, and Paul was looking for a bit of payback. CP3 shot a fadeaway three, and his legs went out as Zion closed out, with their legs tangling and Paul going to the floor.
Initially, the call was a foul on Williamson, which made the player and the fans rage, and New Orleans challenged the call.
The only angle shown on the Balley’s Sports broadcast was not very conclusive, but the referees likely had a better one as they not only reversed their call of a foul on Williamson, they called a foul on Paul for the kick out.
Instead of CP3 stepping up to take three free throws and a chance to tie the game, Paul walked to the sidelines as the Pelicans got the ball and scored to stretch the overtime lead to five. Each team scored four points after that, but the harm was already done, and the Suns lost.