Pelicans Seek Bounce-Back Vs. Short-Handed Suns

Pelicans Alvin Gentry Getty Images

The last time the New Orleans Pelicans and the Phoenix Suns met, the Suns pulled off an improbable comeback to win in overtime.

They scored five points in the final 2.2 seconds of overtime to beat the host Pelicans 138-136 on March 16.

That was one of the few memorable moments in forgettable seasons for both teams.

New Orleans is 32-47 and has lost 11 of its last 13 games entering Friday's visit to Phoenix, which has the worst record in the Western Conference (18-61) and has lost seven of eight.

In the last meeting, the Pelicans were on the verge of ending a five-game losing streak when the Suns' Josh Jackson made a 3-pointer to tie the score at 136 with 2.2 seconds left in overtime.

New Orleans called a timeout that it didn't have, resulting in a technical foul shot and a turnover. Devin Booker broke the tie by making the free throw, and Jackson made one of two free throws after being fouled on the inbounds pass.

The Pelicans had nine players score in double figures in that game, but they're unlikely to dress more than 10 on Friday night because of a rash of injuries.

New Orleans, which went 1-4 on a homestand that ended with a 115-109 loss to Charlotte on Wednesday, concludes its final road trip at Sacramento on Sunday before hosting Golden State in its season finale Tuesday.

Against the Hornets, Julius Randle had 34 points and 11 rebounds, his 30th double-double of the season and his 10th game with at least 30 points.

"I thought he tried (to put the team on his back)," coach Alvin Gentry said.

The Pelicans had 19 turnovers as Charlotte outscored them 17-12 on points off turnovers. They have averaged 19.8 turnovers over their last four games.

"That's the same thing that's been haunting us the past couple of weeks, the turnovers," Gentry said. "When you have 19 to 20 turnovers, what happens in those situations is that the (opponent's) shooting percentage goes up, the points in the paint goes up, the fast-break points go up. All of that goes up."

Booker left a 118-97 home loss to Utah on Wednesday for good after spraining his left ankle. He finished with eight points, ending two record streaks. He had scored at least 25 points in 11 consecutive games, tying a club record, and he had led the team or tied for the team lead in scoring in 13 straight games, tying another franchise record. He's expected to sit out the remaining three games.

"It's hard to replace the franchise," Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov said. "It's hard to replace Book because he's a special player."

Suns rookie DeAndre Ayton, who was ejected in the third quarter after being called for his second technical in the last meeting with the Pelicans, has missed Phoenix's last two games because of an ankle injury.

The Suns are also missing Tyler Johnson (knee) Kelly Oubre Jr. (thumb) and T.J. Warren (ankle).

"This is a time where everyone can show the work they've been putting in all season," forward/center Richaun Holmes told the Suns' official website. "Got a little short-handed rotation so it gives guys some room to be more aggressive. Just go out there, showcase and play the best we can."

The game against the Pelicans is the home finale for the Suns, who complete the season with games at Houston on Sunday and Dallas on Tuesday.

--Field Level Media/Copyright © 2019 TTWN Media Networks LLC


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