Jackson nets 35 points, Suns beat Pelicans in overtime
PHOENIX (AP) — The short-handed Phoenix Suns closed out their home season with a victory Friday and looked toward their final two games, which they need to win to match last year’s 21 wins.
Josh Jackson scored eight of his season-high 35 points in overtime, and Phoenix rallied from 15 points down in the third quarter to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 133-126 Friday night in a matchup of teams missing plenty of players.
Jackson swished a 28-foot 3-pointer with 1:23 left in the extra period, his fifth of the game, to seal the Suns’ victory in their home regular-season finale.
“We just continued to fight throughout the entire game,” Jackson said. “Just trying to keep the same shooting motion every time, miss or make, and just having confidence. ... If you get an open shot, you just have to step up and shoot it.”
Jamal Crawford scored a season-high 28 points, Ray Spalding added a career-high 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Dragan Bender had two of his seven blocked shots in overtime.
The seven blocks marked a career high for the 7-foot-1 Bender, and season best for the Suns.
“We really wanted to win this game for the fans and give them a little hope,” Bender said.
Julius Randle had 31 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Pelicans, who have lost six of seven. Ian Clark added a season-high 24 points.
“We played well in the first half, we had ball movement and did a good job,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said, “and then we decided we’d become and iso(lation) team and that’s what we’re not.”
In the frenetic final seconds of regulation, De’Anthony Melton tipped in teammate Mikal Bridges’ miss with 30.6 seconds to play to give the Suns a 117-116 lead.
Randle missed two free throws with 23.2 seconds left, but the Pelicans got the rebound and Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov was issued a technical foul.
Ian Clark made the free throw to tie the score. The Pelicans retained possession with 11.1 seconds left, only to have Solomon Hill miss a 3-point try.
Phoenix had the last possession of regulation, and Crawford missed a contested 3 just before the buzzer.
“Just whatever it took,” Crawford said. “I just think with it being a trying season, fans need something to hold onto. What better way than in our last home game.”
Jackson had tied the game at 115-all with a 3-pointer with 2:39 to play.
New Orleans was without seven players, including center Anthony Davis, guard Jrue Holiday, and the Pelicans’ third-leading scorer, E’Twaun Moore.
Phoenix was missing its top two scorers, guard Devin Booker and center Deandre Ayton, who has a sprained ankle and missed his third straight game.
The Pelicans took a 76-65 lead into halftime in a game that lacked defense. Clark had 18 points in the first half, while four Suns, led by Crawford’s 15 points, scored in double figures.
New Orleans made 29 of 43 shots in the first half. The 76 points allowed by the Suns tied a season high.
The Suns went on a 17-2 run in the first half of the third quarter and took an 86-84 lead, with Spalding scoring seven points. The Pelicans led 99-96 going into the final quarter.
Friday marked the first time in Suns history in which the team had 10-plus blocked shots (11), 10-plus steals (12) and fewer than 10 turnovers (seven) since the NBA began tracking those stats in 1973.
Rapper Coolio did a brief show at halftime, performing two of his most well-known songs, “Fantastic Voyage” and “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Most of the crowd remained in their seats for the short concert and gave the veteran artist a rousing ovation.
Pelicans: Former Suns player Elfrid Payton had 14 points and 12 assists. ... F Kenrich Williams banked in a half-court shot at the first-quarter buzzer for a 38-31 Pelicans’ lead. ... The Pelicans played their second overtime game against the Suns in less than a month, and lost both.
Suns: Booker, shut down for the rest of the season after suffering a sprained left ankle in the Suns’ loss to Utah on Wednesday, took a seat in the back row of a baseline courtside seating section and watched the game from there. ... Backup C Richaun Holmes sat out with a sprained ankle, which he rolled against the Jazz, but played through. ... Suns fans began chanting “We want Jimmer!” in the third quarter, in reference to popular reserve guard Jimmer Fredette. Fredette never entered the game, but acknowledged the fans with a thumbs-up gesture.
Pelicans: At Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
Suns: At Houston Rockets on Sunday.