This clash at the top of the Western Conference has delivered on its promises! A shock that was eventually won by the Pelicans (128-117) who, thanks to a better negotiated “money time”, won for the sixth time in a row and remained at the top of their conference, right ahead of the Grizzlies and the Suns.
The locals had to try several times to get away with the score. After a very tight first period without a flying leader (55-52), the Pelicans made a first big gap in the minutes after the change to the locker room (65-57). With the impact of the Zion Williamson – Jonas Valanciunas interior pairing, this gap was later confirmed with the biggest advantage in favor of NOLA (82-66).
Lead by 13 points (95-82) at the start of the last quarter after giving up 40 points in the third, the Suns started from long. But a small three-point shot from General Chris Paul put Phoenix back on track. Torrey Craig also came in several times, after which Cameron Payne, from the same distance, let the visitors go past four minutes before the end (107-108).
Despite this great comeback, the Suns didn’t have the keys to limiting the beast opposite, Zion Williamson, who, well supported by Larry Nance Jr., celebrated at the end of the game to secure success.
WHAT TO REMEMBER
– The dunk that goes wrong. « No no no… the local commentator had warned before the gesture. The Suns did not appreciate Zion Williamson breaking the “rule” of not scoring in the closing seconds of the game being played. The interior of the Pelicans has also contributed by signing… an impressive 360° windmill that hardly impressed his teammates! Chris Paul and his family would have preferred it without and have made that clear.
– Pelicans pound under, Sun’s three-pointer. The giants still have power. The proof with this match in which different interior associations were put together to compete. Like this game in the fourth between Deandre Ayton – Jock Landale and Larry Nance Jr. – Jonas Valanciunas. If in the end two interiors scored best, the contradiction of style was blatant. With the exception of Ayton, then, the Suns spent their evening punishing from long range, finishing with an outstanding 22/44 from 3-pointers. Their opponents were much less good in this sector but remained down with 72 points scored, against 38 against and three times as many shots scored.
✅ Zion Williamson. What a phenomenon. He was ubiquitous in the “money time”, including on defense. We think of his interception four minutes from the end, on a cut and well-read pass line, which ended in an authoritarian dunk on the counterattack. The same penalty when Jose Alvarado screened Ayton, allowing Zion to take the baseline. His +30 to the score and his maximum efficiency say a lot about his performance.
✅ Larry Nancy Jr. Less spectacular than the former, but no less essential. The interior signed an “all-round” match par excellence, as he knows how to produce, with constant activity. He more than made up for the clumsiness of his racket buddy Jonas Valanciunas. Next to him off the bench, we must highlight the contribution of Jose Alvarado, especially in the first period, and Naji Marshall, author of a decisive shot two minutes from the end in a corner.
✅ Chris Paul. After a slow return against the Celtics, the leader acted like a boss. Always looking for the right inside corners, “CP3” took control in the last quarter with a string of three award-winning baskets that allowed his team to come back.
✅ Deander Ayton. 12th double-double of the season while keeping clean for the Suns pivot, well found by Chris Paul. A major drawback to his good performance of the evening, a serious and logical difficulty in containing Zion Williamson’s circle attacks, especially in the closing minutes.
⛔ Devin Booker. Speaking of final minutes, the Suns fullback hasn’t seen them. Monty Williams preferred to do without his usual best scorer in the “money-time”. The fullback struggled with his shot all night and finished -18.
Pelicans (17-8) et Sunbathing (16-10) Sunday against each other again on the same floor.