PHOENIX (AP) Chris Paul scored 19 of his 30 factors throughout an excellent fourth-quarter capturing show and the Phoenix Suns beat the New Orleans Pelicans 110-99 on Sunday evening in Game 1 of the first-round playoff sequence.
The top-seeded Suns wanted Paul’s massive end regardless of dominating many of the recreation. The Pelicans shook off a sluggish begin, reducing a 23-point deficit to 79-71 by the tip of the third.
New Orleans saved hitting photographs within the fourth, however that is when Paul took over, hitting three 3-pointers and a layup in 2 1/2 minutes in a flurry that saved the Pelicans chasing. The ageless veteran will flip 37 later in these playoffs if the Suns advance far sufficient, however as soon as once more appeared a decade youthful.
Paul has by no means gained a championship, falling simply brief with the Suns final 12 months once they misplaced to the Bucks in six video games within the Finals. He’s fond of claiming he by no means takes postseason basketball as a right and his a hundred and thirtieth profession playoff recreation was amongst his finest.
Game 2 is Tuesday evening in Phoenix.
The Suns had been 47-0 within the common season when main after three quarters. Now they’re 1-0 within the playoffs.
Paul shot 12 for 16 from the sector, together with 4 of 6 on 3-pointers.
Devin Booker – who completed with 25 factors – hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession and the Suns by no means trailed, utilizing a ferocious defensive effort to shortly take management. Phoenix led 53-34 by halftime, forcing the Pelicans into simply 11 of 49 capturing (22%) earlier than the break.
Suns massive man Deandre Ayton was notably dominant on the defensive finish with 4 blocks, and had 21 factors and 9 rebounds, At one level within the third quarter, he swatted a shot from Jonas Valanciunas and turned towards the group, screaming because the followers returned a roar in approval.
CJ McCollum led the Pelicans with 25 factors, however struggled along with his capturing a lot of the evening. He completed 9 of 25 from the sector. Valanciunas added 18 factors and 25 rebounds. Brandon Ingram scored 18 factors.
New Orleans made its shock journey to the playoffs by successful two video games within the play-in event, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 105-101 on Friday evening.
That gave the Pelicans loads of momentum, however the Suns had the contemporary legs and it confirmed.
The Suns’ preliminary power was spectacular, notably on the defensive finish. They led by 16 at one level within the first quarter earlier than settling for a 28-16 benefit going into the second.
It’s no secret Suns coach Monty Williams and Pelicans coach Willie Green are shut associates and colleagues.
Green was Williams’ lead assistant final season throughout the Suns’ run to the Finals earlier than incomes the pinnacle teaching job in New Orleans throughout the offseason.
Williams stated he texted Green to congratulate him following the Pelicans’ win over the Clippers on Friday. Otherwise, he stated there’s been no communcation.
”We have not had some lengthy, drawn-out dialog with violins taking part in behind us or something like that,” Williams stated pregame. ”We’ve received to organize our groups to play. I’m trying ahead to the competitors.”
Suns: G Landry Shamet (sprained left foot) missed observe on Friday however was listed as obtainable on Sunday. He did not play. … Cam Johnson completed with 13 factors on 5-of-6 capturing. JaVale McGee added seven factors and 7 rebounds. … Mikal Bridges was known as for a technical foul within the fourth quarter.
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