The New Orleans Pelicans have made it plain that this first-round playoff series will be a fight for the top-seeded Phoenix Suns, with Brandon Ingram on fire and Devin Booker suffering.
With 37 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists, Ingram led the Pelicans to a 125-114 victory over the Suns in Game 2 on Tuesday, tying the series at one game apiece and giving the Pelicans their first postseason victory since 2018.
As soon as the last whistle sounded, Pelicans player Larry Nance Jr. rushed off the court and into the tunnel with his teammates.
New Orleans hosts Game 3 on Friday.
“Let’s go,” Nance remarked after the win. “Let’s get out of here.”
Not only did the Suns lose the game, but they’re also concerned about Booker’s health. The All-Star guard scored 31 points in the first half before leaving in the third quarter with right hamstring discomfort.
When he justify, the Suns were behind 77-74, having led the NBA with a franchise-record 64 wins throughout the regular season.
There was no word on Booker’s health or whether the injury will keep him out past Tuesday. Chris Paul, the Suns’ guard, said the injury was no justification for the team’s loss.
Paul stated, “We’ve got players that are more than capable of stepping up.” “The book was lethal. He was having a huge game, but that’s how it goes.”
Without their leading scorer, Phoenix kept the game close and even seized the lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Pelicans rallied, scoring key 3-pointers from Jose Alvarado, CJ McCollum, and Ingram to take a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
“Everything was moving along nicely,” Ingram added. “On the floor, everyone was effective, all five.” Whether offensively or defensively, all five made something happen. “Today, we were truly linked.”
McCollum scored 23 points in the game. Ingram added gutsy back-to-back shots in the final minutes to halt the Suns from making a comeback.
Pelicans coach Willie Green commented, “This is one of his greatest and it was on a big platform.” “I admire that young man. He puts forth a lot of effort, is a terrific teammate, has a good character, and a high IQ, and he showed that tonight.”
Ingram shot 13 of 21 from the field for a total of 13 points. The Pelicans made 17 of 30 3-point attempts (57 percent).
The Suns clearly missed Booker in the fourth quarter, but the loss was more due to sloppy transition defence throughout the evening.
Suns coach Monty Williams commented, “That was arguably the worst we have ever looked in transition while I have been here.” “It was a little uncomfortable for everyone that that happened in a playoff game.”
The Pelicans said they were taken aback by the ferocity of their Game 1 loss, particularly during the first half, when they went down by 19 points. On Tuesday, they didn’t make the same error, leading 30-28 after one quarter.
Thanks to Booker’s shooting spree, the Suns rallied for a 61-56 halftime lead. He made 12 of 18 shots in the first half, including 7 of 10 from 3-point range, for a total of 31 points. After the Pelicans inexplicably justify him free, he scored a 30-footer right before the halftime buzzer.