Booker leads Suns to OT win over winless Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Things were a little fuzzy for Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson after watching Devin Booker tie the game with a tough shot at the regulation buzzer.
“I remember the shot, but honestly I don’t remember the play,” he said. “I’m going to watch (the game) tonight on the plane. I will collect my thoughts and will try to see what I was thinking.
“I know we ran that play for him for sure.”
Booker scored 38 points, including the improbable jumper that tied it at the buzzer, and the Suns beat New Orleans 112-111 in overtime Friday night, keeping the Pelicans winless on the season.
T.J. Warren added 18 points on 4-of-17 shooting for the Suns (2-4), while Eric Bledsoe had 17 points and Tyson Chandler had 12 points and 18 rebounds.
Anthony Davis had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans (0-6), while forward Terrence Jones, starting in place of the suspended Dante Cunningham, had 19 points. Though the Pelicans outshot the Suns 46 percent to 43 percent, they managed to shoot just 53.6 percent from the free throw line (15 of 28). The Suns finished 24 of 28 at the line.
The win was second in a row for the Suns who started the season with a four-game losing streak. The Pelicans started 0-6 for the second straight season.
“It’s good that we’re able to get these wins, especially as a young team,” Chandler said. “We’ll start trying to close these teams out earlier, but it does build character in the long run.
“I thought we were on the right track before, but unfortunately we got a couple of losses. But I definitely like the way we’ve been playing all season.”
Booker tied the game at 102 with a fadeaway jumper from the side as time expired. He had made a 3-pointer to tie the game at 100. With 11.7 seconds remaining, Lance Stephenson took the entry pass down the left side of the lane and threw up a fall-away floater, which he watched go in as he fell to the court, leaving 2.1 seconds to play.
“He made a great shot, a contested jump shot,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “He’s a great player.”
A back-and-forth overtime ended with Pelicans guard E’Twaun Moore making two free throws with 8.6 seconds left after being fouled by Booker, who fouled out. But Warren took an inbounds pass from P.J. Tucker, cut through the lane and dunked, giving the Suns a 112-111 lead. Moore missed a jump shot as time expired.
“I thought we became too cautious at times,” Gentry said. “You can’t play that way. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but you can’t be cautious.”
It was the second straight overtime game for both teams. The Suns beat Portland 118-115 on Wednesday night in Phoenix, while New Orleans fell 89-83 at Memphis the same night.
Suns: Booker had three of the Suns 8 3-pointers for the game. ... Bledsoe led the Suns with four assists.
Pelicans: F Dante Cunningham was suspended for the game by the NBA after pleading guilty to “operating a motor vehicle in a negligent manner while exhibiting the effects of having consumed alcohol” in Washington state, according to a league press release.
The NBA “just let us know (today),” Gentry said before the game. “It’s no big deal. It’s something that happened and he regrets it.”
No other information was available from Pelicans team officials.
Jones, his replacement, made the most of his first start for the Pelicans, finishing with 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four blocks. ... Buddy Hield and Langston Galloway combined to go 4 of 7 from 3-point range in the first 4 minutes and finished a combined 6 for 16 for the game.
With 4:19 left in the fourth quarter Booker bumped Davis as he raced down the court to receive a long pass from Stephenson. Davis remained on the court for some time. He returned to the game and Booker was charged with a common foul.
Booker said he wasn’t fazed by the boos he received after he knocked down Davis.
“The crowd turned against me after that AD play, but I embraced it and had fun with it,” Booker said. “I talked to him afterwards about it and he said that he wasn’t hurt or anything by it. He did tell me I overdid it though.”
Gentry praised Suns small forward Jared Dudley, whom he coached for four years during his tenure in Phoenix, though not without a dash of his good-natured humor.
“He’s the least athletic (small forward) in the history of the game,” said Gentry, laughing. “He’s just really smart. He found his game to be effective in this league and sometimes that’s tough to do.”
Still, Gentry doesn’t expect Dudley to transform into a rim-crashing machine this year. Asked if he thought Dudley would achieve his promise of throwing down five dunks this season, Gentry replied, “I’d take the under on that one.”
Suns: visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.
Pelicans: visit the Golden State Warriors on Monday.