3 Observations from Phoenix Suns Game 3 vs New Orleans Pelicans

Phoenix Suns. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
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Phoenix Suns, Jae Crowder
Phoenix Suns, Jae Crowder (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Suns Observation #3: Jae Crowder redeemed himself from the past two games

Jae Crowder is the modern-day version of Chicago Bulls legend Dennis Rodman for these Phoenix Suns. Crowder got under the skin of many Pelicans players midway through the second quarter, most notably center Jaxson Hayes, who was ejected for laying out Crowder on a rebound.

The scuffle between Crowder and Hayes reminded me of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz. As a small child, I watched the 1998 NBA Finals with great interest while also closely following World Championship Wrestling (a now-defunct promotion owned and operated by television magnate Ted Turner).

After Chicago Bulls forward Dennis Rodman get mixed up with Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone, I thought it made perfect sense in my eight-year old mind for Rodman and Malone to wrestle at the next WCW pay-per-view. While Crowder and Hayes are probably not going to have a pro wrestling match in the foreseeable future, the incident drew several parallels.

Hayes was clearly frustrated after he got dunked on by Suns guard Landry Shamet (and got called for a questionable foul on the same play). Crowder was doing everything he can to provoke Hayes into losing his cool. Hayes then proceeded to deliver a picture-perfect shoulder tackle, which would have been great in pro wrestling (Crowder sold the move perfectly) but not in the NBA!

In all seriousness, Crowder gave the Suns almost nothing in the first two games. His shot is finally starting to gradually get back to his normal level. This clutch three by Crowder is why it is important to never overreact to two consecutive bad games.

But even if Crowder stays ice cold from three-point range, his role as an agitator on both ends can serve the Suns well as this series progresses. Like Rodman for the Bulls, he does not necessarily need to score to be effective for the Suns.

Like Rodman for the Bulls decades prior, his work on the boards and his penchant for grabbing those 50/50 loose balls are crucial for the Suns if they are to win it all. He also made a clutch put-back down the stretch to keep the game out of reach for the Pelicans.

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Jae Crowder is a man on a mission. He will need to deliver all the little things so Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton (and Devin Booker if he returns from injury) can do all the big things needed to win an NBA Championship.