PHOENIX (AP) — Whatever New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said to Julius Randle at halftime worked.
Randle scored 16 of his 22 points in the third quarter, leading the Pelicans to a 130-116 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
“I encouraged him in a different way,” Gentry said with a laugh. “We have to rely on ball movement and people movement. That’s when we’re at our best.”
Jrue Holiday scored 21 points, E’Twaun Moore added 20 and Anthony Davis, on a team-imposed playing-time restriction, had 17 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes. The Pelicans snapped a two-game skid.
Devin Booker scored 26 points, Kelly Oubre Jr. added 19 and Deandre Ayton 16 as the Suns lost their first game after ending a 17-game skid.
The Pelicans took control in the third quarter and led for all but 1:13 of the second half. Booker hit a 3-pointer with 2:18 remaining as Phoenix closed within 119-112, but the Pelicans scored the next eight points.
“We just came out with a lack of focus, a lack of energy from the start of the game,” Randle said. “It just wasn’t good, so we just tried to lock in for that second half and play like we know how to play.”
The Suns led by as many as 11 in the first quarter. The Pelicans cut the lead to two, 34-32, but Phoenix hit four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the second quarter — two each for De’Anthony Melton and Troy Daniels off the bench — to take a 48-38 lead.
Moore made a 3 that cut the Suns’ lead to 54-53 with 1:15 left in the first half, but Phoenix carried a 57-56 lead into halftime.
Davis scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting in 13 minutes of the first half.
The Pelicans took their first lead of the game 42 seconds into the second half, 58-57, when Davis hit an 11-foot jumper. They went on an 11-0 run early in the third quarter and took a 77-66 lead.
“A lot of good shots. A lot of good wide open shots,” Holiday said. “To be able to play together and get wide open, good shots makes the game easy.”
The Suns trailed by as many as 12 in the third, before Booker scored a vicious one-handed dunk over Davis that got the fans out of their seats and made it 80-74.
But Booker said energy was lacking.
“Just a vibe,” he said. “On the court, it wasn’t there.”
Davis left the game for good with 3:29 left in the quarter, and the Pelicans rebuilt their lead. Holiday’s 3-pointer with 1:32 left made it 92-81 for New Orleans.
“We felt that all of the work we did, we only had a one-point lead (at halftime),” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. “We didn’t open the third quarter well. It was a wake-up call for them. They just put it in next gear and we couldn’t match that.”
PELICANS: Davis heard boos from the Phoenix crowd when at the foul line in the second quarter. He requested a trade in late January, but was not dealt. ... Former Phoenix player Elfrid Payton had eight points and 10 assists. ... The Pelicans made 16 of 27 3-point attempts.
SUNS: F Josh Jackson heard a few derisive whistles from the crowd when checking in for the first time in the first quarter. Jackson was fined by the Suns for a violation of team rules on Thursday, after reportedly missing a scheduled autograph session. He was also heckled when he missed a dunk. ... F Dragan Bender made his eighth start of the season and scored eight points. ... G Jamal Crawford did not play after scoring 16 points in the Suns’ previous game. He’s been held out in two of the last three games.
Pelicans: At Denver on Saturday night.
Suns: Host Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.
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