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Booker scores season-high 44 points, Suns outlast Pelicans

Devin Booker broke out of a perimeter-shooting slump, scoring 21 of his season-high 44 points in the third quarter, and Ricky Rubio powered the Phoenix Suns with four points and a critical assist in overtime in a 139-132 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night.

Playing the back end of a back-to-back, Phoenix led by 18 points entering the fourth quarter, but the Pelicans fought back with five 3-pointers, two by the normally scatter-shooting Lonzo Ball, to tie it at 125.

The Pelicans had a chance to win in regulation, but Brandon Ingram missed a 15-foot jumper from the right baseline as time expired.

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) and New Orleans Pelicans guard Kenrich Williams reach for the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

In overtime, Ingram’s conventional three-point play tied it at 129, but Rubio hit a 12-footer and a scoop in the lane and then added a no-look assist to put the Suns up 135-129. Rubio finished with 15 assists.

New Orleans got to 135-132 on JJ Redick’s 3-pointer with 56.5 left, but Frank Kaminsky, who had six points in the overtime, iced it with two free throws. Kaminsky finished with 20 points, and Kelly Oubre had 14 points and 15 rebounds.

Booker was just 9 of 31 from long range in his previous five games, but he made 5 of 11 3-pointers, including all three of his attempts in 33-21 third quarter when the Suns built a 105-85 lead.

New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry and guard Jrue Holiday watch a replay before contesting a foul call during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

The Suns led 74-70 at halftime and then took control by opening the third quarter on a 16-3 run. The Pelicans gunned their way back into contention in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 118-113 on JJ Redick’s fourth 3-pointer of the game, but they could not get closer.

New Orleans, which lost its seventh consecutive game, had four players with at least 20 points: Redick with 26, Jrue Holiday with 23, Ingram with 21 and Ball with 20 and 11 assists.

TIP-INS

Phoenix Suns forward Frank Kaminsky (8) goes up for the ball next to New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram and guard JJ Redick (4) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

Suns: Monty Williams returned to New Orleans as an NBA head coach for the first time since his five-season tenure with the Pelicans (173-221) ended in May 2015. Tragically, Williams’ wife Ingrid, the mother of five, died on Feb. 10, 2016, in a head-on collision in Oklahoma City. Williams said several friends in New Orleans helped him cope with the tragedy. “You meet so many people when you’re a head coach in a town like this, whether it’s in the organization, the players, Covenant House, New Orleans Mission, going down to the bayou on an off day and catching redfish and just hanging with the Cajuns down there,” Williams said. “More than anybody, pastor Bill Gebhardt of Fellowship Bible Church in Metairie – he’s like my dad. If I hadn’t met pastor Bill when I came here, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”

… Aron Baynes sat out with a left calf strain. … Ricky Rubio’s turnover one minute into the second quarter was his first since a Nov. 29 game against Dallas.

He recorded 35 assists during that same span.

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) goes to the basket against Phoenix Suns forward Frank Kaminsky (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

Pelicans: Executive vice president David Griffin said the team will be exceedingly careful with No. 1 pick Zion Williams, who has been sidelined for six weeks since arthroscopic knee surgery. “If we get outside the eight weeks, it’s because he didn’t meet the (knee-strength) metrics,” Griffin said. … Derrick Favors, whose mother died unexpectedly two weeks ago, missed his fifth straight game while on personal leave. … Kenrich Williams returned from a sprained left ankle after having missed the last two games. … UP NEXT

Suns: End a four-game road trip at Houston on Saturday.

Pelicans: At Dallas on Saturday.

New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick (4) and Phoenix Suns forward Dario Saric watch the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker goes to the basket in front of New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli (20) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) rolls onto his back after shooting a 3-pointer during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) dunks during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) is fouled by Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)