NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As Josh Jackson’s tying 3-pointer fell through the hoop in the dying seconds of overtime, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry rushed to call a timeout his team didn’t have.
Officials had no choice but to assess New Orleans a technical foul that put Suns star Devin Booker on the free throw line with 1.1 seconds left.
Booker calmly hit the free throw to cap his 40-point, 13-assist performance and put the Suns up for good in a 138-136 victory on Saturday night.
“That’s the beauty of the sport; you never know what can happen,” Booker said. “We came into the locker room — we were looking around and we still don’t know what happened, but we’ll take the win for sure.”
Gentry was quick to accept blame for calling the timeout that drew the technical foul.
“I thought we had one left,” Gentry said. “We didn’t have one left. That was all on me. I’ll take the hit for that one.”
Jackson, who had 19 points, said he figured Booker would draw multiple defenders when the Suns were setting up for a tying 3-pointer in the final few seconds, “so I just tried to get as far away from him as I possibly could. And sure enough, he drew two defenders, kicked the ball out and I just stepped up and shot it.”
Jackson also scored the game’s final point on a free throw after he was fouled on an inbound pass with less than a second on the clock, capping a game that Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said was unlike any he’d experienced.
“I live and learn,” Kokoskov said. “We will remember this game even better because it was a unique and different game that we won.”
Elfrid Payton had 16 points, 16 assists and 13 rebounds in his fourth straight triple-double — all coming in the midst of New Orleans’ six-game losing streak.
Julius Randle had 21 points and 11 rebounds, but missed what turned out to be a pivotal free throw with 12 seconds left in overtime.
New Orleans called its final timeout, leading 136-133, after rebounding Booker’s missed 3-point attempt with 7 seconds to go. But when play resumed, Payton was whistled for a 5-second violation while trying to inbound the ball.
Anthony Davis, who scored the game’s first points on an alley-oop dunk, had 15 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and a block in 22 minutes for New Orleans. The Pelicans trailed 80-75 when Davis left the game for good with 5:15 left in the third quarter, in line with his scaled-back playing time since his trade request in late January.
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 32 points for Phoenix, which has won five of its past eight games.
Suns: Deandre Ayton was ejected after being assessed his second technical foul of the game with 1:02 left in the third quarter. Official Eric Lewis assessed the second technical while Ayton complained from the bench about a foul called against him moments earlier that had led Kokoskov to substitute the starting center out of the game. ... Oubre has scored 22 or more in three of his past four games.
Pelicans: Payton joined James Harden, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Russell Westbrook as the only players in NBA history to record triple-doubles in as many as four straight games. ... Darius Miller had 16 points, Jahlil Okafor 15 and Ian Clark 11, all off the bench. Jackson scored 14 and Kenrich Williams 10 in starting roles. ... Cheick Diallo had 10 rebounds. ... Latvian Dairis Bertans played for the third time since New Orleans acquired him as a rookie free agent this month. The 29-year-old scored the first points of his career on a 3-pointer late in the third quarter.
The Pelicans could have tried to foul Booker before he could get off a shot or pass in the final seconds of overtime — a move that would have put Booker on the foul line for two shots instead of letting him find Jackson for a tying 3.
“All of it was just confusion. It’s not on one person or, you know, anybody,” Randle said. “We all have to communicate a little bit better.”
New Orleans’ overtime collapse came after the Pelicans also missed a chance to win in regulation.
After Booker’s layup tied the game at 122 with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans called timeout to set up the last shot, but Frank Jackson’s fade from the top of the key fell short.
Suns: Host Chicago on Monday night.
Pelicans: Visit Dallas on Monday night.