The Pelicans are on the brink of elimination after collapsing to the offensive torching by Mikal Bridges and the Suns 112-97.
Bridges was on fire with 31 points (70.6%), 5 rebounds, four blocked shots, and two assists as Phoenix went wire to wire to take a 3-2 series lead over New Orleans.
Pelicans coach Willie Green seemed mildly perturbed with his team’s first-quarter performance in his postgame press conference. “We can’t dig ourselves in a hole against a really good team,” Green said.
New Orleans fell behind early 32-20 in the first quarter and trailed the entire game to Phoenix.
Sun’s forward Mikal Bridges barely broke a sweat and gave an Herculean effort by playing 46:54 out of 48 minutes of the contest.
Pelicans Stat Leaders
- Brandon Ingram – 22 Pts
- CJ McCollum – 21 Pts
- Jonas Valanciunas – 17 Pts
- Jonas Valanciunas – 14 Reb
- CJ McCollum – 8 Reb
- Herbert Jones – 7 Reb
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- CJ McCollum – 5 Ast
- Brandon Ingram – 5 Ast
- Jonas Valanciunas – 3 Ast
- CJ McCollum – 2 Blk
- Herbert Jones – 2 Blk
- Herbert Jones – 2 Stl
- Jose Alvarado – 2 Stl
The Hardcourt Scoop
- New Orleans couldn’t contain Phoenix’s three-point shooting on the evening. The Suns scored 10 of 27 (37%) from beyond the arc, while the Pelicans were 5 of 25 (20%).
- Jose Alvarado’s impact against Chris Paul is real. The pesky point guard is more effective than Devonte Graham (10 pts, 0 steals + blocks in Game 4 & 5) in the lineup versus Paul. He’s has forced two eight-second violations on Paul and two steals. Paul rebounded with a 22-point and 11-assist Game 5, but mostly from being guarded by either Jones, Graham, and McCollum. Alvarado’s presence makes a difference.
- Lineup changes? Green insisted that he would not change the starting lineup for Game 6. One suggestion would be for Alvarado to be inserted earlier to take advantage of his defensive success on Paul.
- Where is Jaxson Hayes? The lanky forward played 13:24 minutes with 2 points (Game 4) and 15:32 minutes with 8 points (Game 5). Hayes’ defensive contributions have also declined over the past two games with no steals + blocks and only 5 rebounds. As a starter, Hayes must improve his overall game.
Devin Booker is working out his hamstring issues, and video shows Zion Williamson appearing ready and willing to get into at least one game. Will we see either superstars before the end of the series?
Probably not. But the drama of having both making an entrance in a possible winner-take-all Game 7 would be great for each franchise, basketball, and television.
You must agree with NBA commentator Reggie Miller — could Zion just give you 15 good minutes of basketball; if so, why not? The Pelicans’ season is on the line.
New Orleans must fend off elimination by the Suns in front of its home crowd in Game 6 on Thursday. The young Pelicans must continue to fight while you can sense Chris Paul and the Suns are smelling blood and ready to end this highly-contentious series.
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