*

upload_article_image

Booker scores 33, leads Suns to 123-110 win over Pelicans

Devin Booker scored 33 points, Chris Paul added 11 points and 15 assists, and the Phoenix Suns beat the New Orleans Pelicans 123-110 on Tuesday night.

Mikal Bridges added 23 points for Phoenix, which picked up its seventh win over the Pelicans in the last nine games. He and Cameron Johnson (18 points) both made five 3-pointers, while veteran center Bismack Biyombo shot 6 for 6 and scored 16.

The Suns led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter but were up just 101-99 after Devonte' Graham made his third 3-pointer of the fourth quarter with 6:21 left. But Booker, with 11 fourth-quarter points, sparked a 22-11 run by the Suns to put away the game.

Phoenix Suns center Bismack Biyombo (18) is fouled by New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. The Suns won 123-110. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

Graham scored 28 points for New Orleans, which has lost four of five. Jonas Valanciunas finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds.

The Suns led by 13 points midway through the third quarter. The Pelicans used an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 74-69 before Phoenix continued its torrid perimeter shooting to lead 95-84 after three. The Suns made 13 of 24 3-pointers over three quarters.

The Suns made six of their first seven shots, with Booker assisting on four baskets, to build a 16-5 lead. Phoenix went 15 of 25 from the field on its way to a 42-31 first-quarter lead behind Booker’s 13 points.

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) moves the ball between New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) and New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. The Suns won 123-110. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

The 42 points were the most allowed in any quarter this season by the Pelicans. The Suns were 5 of 10 from long range, with center Jalen Smith making both shots from long range. Smith left the game briefly early in the second quarter after taking an inadvertent elbow from Valanciunas, making the Suns even smaller.

TIP-INS

Suns: After missing four games due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols, coach Monty Williams returned to the bench. The Suns went 2-2 under lead assistant Kevin Young. “It bothered me like you can’t imagine not to be there,” Williams said. “It did knock me on my butt for a few days, and that kind of surprised me. Typically, when I have a bad flu, I’ve always been able to function, but for about three or four days, man, I was totally toast.” … Suns played a small lineup without C Deandre Ayton, F Jae Crowder and C JaVale McGee, sidelined due to health and safety protocols. … The Suns’ 29-8 record is tie the team’s second-best start in franchise history through the first 37 games of a season (31-6 in 2004-05).

Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) battles for a loose ball between New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham, left, center Jaxson Hayes (10) and forward Brandon Ingram in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. The Suns won 123-110. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

Pelicans: Pelicans rookie F Herb Jones, who normally draws the team’s toughest defensive assignment, is becoming known more widely for his shut-down ability. “In this league, you get thrown in the fire when you’re that good,” coach Willie Green said. “He’s going to continue to get better and learn. His progression from the start to now, it’s a huge jump.”

UP NEXT

Suns: Host the LA Clippers on Thursday.

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

Pelicans: Host the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.