A 37-point third quarter led by starting shooting guard Gerald Green pushed the Phoenix Suns past the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday, and more solid defense led Jeff Hornacek’s team back into the game after a slow start without point guard Goran Dragic, who sat out with an ankle sprain.
Who else but Eric Bledsoe would end up leading the Suns? The young point guard continued with his erratic decision-making but once against made up for his miscues with his dynamic attacking of the rim. Unlike past games, when teams would sag off Bledsoe on pick-and-roll action, he refused to launch second-guessed jumpers and instead attacked the paint. He scored 23 points on 12 field goal attempts.
Who wins the starting point guard battle?
Jrue Holiday might be the closest example to what signing a still unproven point guard to a big contract could mean. And even though he has an All-Star game under his belt, Tuesday showed that the NBA is an unforgiving game. Holiday exited the game early in the first quarter after picking up two quick fouls, and struggled offensively.
Holiday did record nine assists but had six turnovers and shot 1-for-7 from the field.
Bledsoe struggled early on and ended with five turnovers, but he calmed down to score eight fourth-quarter points and finished with five dimes and three steals while playing his most efficient game as a Sun.
The Suns’ late free-agent offer sheet signee, Eric Gordon, scored 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting and the Pelican’s big summer pickup, Tyreke Evans, added nine points and three turnovers while sitting behind Brian Roberts and Anthony Morrow as New Orleans went with a four-guard lineup in crunch-time minutes. Not really worth $44 million over four years, eh?
Do the Suns hold Anthony Davis under 10 rebounds?
Nope. Davis showed how a rookie season shouldn’t tell the whole tale. The second-year forward was the first overall pick in 2012 because of his defensive prowess, and that showed with his 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. He got going against the Suns bench, as the Morris twins did something they do little — attempt to impact the game from inside out — but against a player they had no business shooting passive fadeaways and layups against.
The Morris twins, however, got going in the second half and especially while playing with backup point guard Ish Smith. Smith seemingly ran a more fluid offense than Bledsoe, poking and prodding the defense until it broke. He caught the defensive players’ eyes looking as the Morris twins slipped to the bucket off of Smith’s in control penetration.
Markieff Morris finished with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Marcus Morris tallied 16 points and nine rebounds. Both did their best to score in the paint and combined to shoot 3-for-5 from three-point range.
Additionally, Miles Plumlee also had a decent-enough game following a rough outing against the Thunder. He scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Where does the offensive come from for Phoenix?
Gerald Green got hot after hitting the Suns’ first basket in the second half. He went 4-for-5 from three-point range in the third quarter and started getting into unconscious mode to finish with 18 points and six threes made.
Phoenix exploded in the third, hitting 68.2 percent from the floor and a scorching 7-for-10 shots from three-point range, that after hitting 40 percent overall and 41.7 percent from deep in the first two quarters.
That burst had a lot to do with Smith. Now it’s clear why the Suns were OK shipping off Kendall Marshall. His replacement backup finished with eight assists with had four straight within a two-minute period in the third, the final being a behind-the-back pass to P.J. Tucker for a corner three off a low dribble drive.