The Phoenix Suns, led by an incredible 52-point performance from Devin Booker, defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 123-107 on Thursday night. Booker was unstoppable, scoring the second-most points in a game in his career. The Suns also got a boost from the return of Kevin Durant, who looked sharp after missing time with an injury. Meanwhile, despite 34 points from Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans struggled to keep up with the Suns’ offensive onslaught.
Booker Dazzles with 52 Points in Three Quarters
Booker was simply sensational in this one. He went 20-29 from the field, including 6-11 from three, and made all six of his free throw attempts. Booker scored 25 points in the first quarter alone, the most points in a quarter in Suns franchise history.
His shot was falling from all over the court – pull up jumpers, catch-and-shoot threes, drives to the basket. The Pelicans defenders struggled to stay in front of him all night. Booker made tough shots look easy, consistently hitting well-contested jumpers off the dribble.
Booker finally cooled off at the start of the fourth quarter, so head coach Monty Williams decided to rest him for the remainder of the blowout win. Still, scoring 52 points in just three quarters is an incredible feat.
Booker joins elite company as one of just three players in NBA history with back-to-back 50 point games in three quarters or less. The others are the legendary Wilt Chamberlain and Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.
Durant Returns to Action for Phoenix
In his first game back from a knee injury that kept him sideline for three weeks, Kevin Durant showed why the Suns traded for him this offseason. He played 32 minutes and stuffed the stat sheet with 28 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks.
Durant looked fully healthy, moving well and elevating with ease. He knocked down 4 three-pointers and made some gorgeous fadeaways and pull up jumpers reminiscent of his MVP seasons. It was an encouraging return for Durant, who told reporters after the game that his knee responded well.
The Suns are now 5-2 when Durant plays this season. If he can stay healthy down the stretch, Phoenix could be poised for another deep playoff run with their new Big Three of Booker, Durant and Chris Paul.
Pelicans’ Ingram Scores 34 in Losing Effort
Despite the lopsided final score, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram played excellently in this game. With Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum sidelined by injury, Ingram put the Pelicans offense on his shoulders.
He shot 13-24 from the field on his way 34 points, making tough shot after tough shot with Booker and Durant guarding him for stretches. Ingram also contributed 5 assists and 4 rebounds.
However, Ingram did not get much help from his supporting cast. The Pelicans shot just 10-36 (28%) from three-point range as a team. Herbert Jones (14 points) was the only other Pelicans player to score in double figures.
|Pelicans Box Score
Without Williamson and McCollum to alleviate some of the scoring burden, Ingram faced constant double teams and did not have much room to operate. Still, this monster scoring performance was an encouraging sign for the Pelicans star moving forward.
What This Means Going Forward
For the Suns
This statement win showed that the Suns are still among the NBA’s elite teams when fully healthy. The Booker/Durant one-two scoring punch will be nearly impossible to stop. Pair that with the veteran savvy of floor general Chris Paul, and Phoenix has re-established itself as a top threat to come out of the loaded Western Conference.
If Booker can continue playing at this red-hot level and Durant stays healthy, the Suns appear poised to make another run to the NBA Finals. This team has all the pieces – scoring, defense, experience, coaching. Now it’s just a matter of staying healthy and continuing to build chemistry with the new Durant/Booker pairing.
Up next, the Suns take on the Indiana Pacers at home on Saturday.
For the Pelicans
Despite Ingram’s big night, this loss showed the Pelicans still have a ways to go before joining the Western Conference elite. Missing two All Stars in Zion and McCollum certainly hurt. But the supporting cast needs to step up and provide more consistent scoring for New Orleans to compete with the NBA’s top teams.
The Pelicans schedule doesn’t get any easier, as they stay on the road facing the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. Expect another heavy dose of Brandon Ingram as New Orleans fights to stay in the Western Conference playoff race until Zion and CJ return to the lineup. If Ingram keeps playing like an All Star, the Pelicans should stay afloat.
This Suns blowout revealed that while the future is bright for New Orleans, they aren’t quite ready to challenge for a championship this season. Development of their young core and continued growth from Brandon Ingram are still needed to elevate the Pelicans into true contention.
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