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McCollum, Williamson help Pelicans beat Suns 113-105, leaving teams tied for 6th

  • AP
  • Apr 07, 2024

PHOENIX (AP) C.J. McCollum scored 31 points, Zion Williamson had 29 and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Phoenix Suns 113-105 on Sunday, leaving the teams tied for the sixth and final guaranteed Western Conference playoff spot.

Both teams are 46-32 with four games remaining, two games behind fifth-place Dallas. The Suns own the tiebreaker, having won the season series 2-1.

Williamson, who sat out Friday night in a loss at San Antonio because of a finger injury, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter. For the game he had 10 rebounds, seven assists and a career-high five blocked shots.

“He’s been getting better defensively as the season has progressed,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said about Williamson. “He was everywhere, guarding the ball, blocking shots, coming up with big offensive rebounds, attacking the basket, making his free throws.”

Suns coach Frank Vogel agreed: “He dominated the game on both sides of the ball. Exceptional performance.”

“I was locked into the game plan. They got special players,” Williamson said. “I felt like if I was guarding one of them late in the game I could give my team energy.”

The Pelicans snapped a four-game losing streak and moved to 25-14 on the road. Their next three games are also away from home before finishing at home next Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Jose Alvarado, back after missing five games with a strained oblique, made five 3-pointers and finished with 15 points. Trey Murphy scored 13 points and Dyson Daniels had 10 points. Larry Nance Jr. contributed nine points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

“Those guys are resilient, and they know what we’re playing for,” Green said about his team. “This team has beat us twice with Booker hitting incredible shots and we wanted to come out and play with a level of toughness that we know is up to our standards. That’s what we did.”

Devin Booker scored 25 points for Phoenix but was 0 for 6 from 3-point range. In his previous three games against the Pelicans, he scored 50 or more points, including a 52-point game Monday night in New Orleans.

Vogel chalked some of that up to “playoff intensity.”

“They fouled him, every time he took a step, they were grabbing him and that led to some of the turnovers.”

Bradley Beal led Phoenix with 33 points, making 7 of 8 3-pointers – the rest of the Suns combined for seven. Kevin Durant scored 23 points and Grayson Allen finished with 11. Jusuf Nurkic had 10 rebounds.

The Suns saw a three-game winning streak end. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 games.

New Orleans got off to a slow start, missing its first seven 3-point tries. But McCollum made five and Alvarado four before the first half ended, and the Pelicans were 11 of 24 from behind the arc at intermission. They finished 16 of 39.

The Pelicans again played without Brandon Ingram, out since March 21 with a left knee contusion.

Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player with 50-plus points against the same opponent three games in a row, doing it in 1961-62 for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks.

Only two fouls were called in the first quarter, both on the Pelicans. Jusuf Nurkic committed the Suns’ first foul of the game with 7:45 to play in the second quarter.

With 1:13 left in the third quarter, Booker and Daniels exchanged shoves after Booker was called for an offensive foul. After review. Each player was assessed a technical foul.

NEXT

Timberwolves: At Portland on Tuesday night.

Suns: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

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Footprint Center Phoenix, AZ

TOP SCORERS
C. McCollum PG31PTS4REB5AST
B. Beal SG33PTS3REB5AST
team logo

Pelicans

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
C. McCollum3145241
Z. Williamson29107239
T. Murphy III1342238
H. Jones453433
J. Valanciunas22003
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
J. Alvarado1530122
D. Daniels1062228
L. Nance Jr.987431
J. Robinson-Earl00001
C. Zeller
M. Hill
B. Ingram
M. Ryan
J. Hawkins
J. Crutcher
I. Brockington
N. Marshall
E. Liddell
D. Seabron
Total113422617236
team logo

Suns

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
B. Beal3335338
D. Booker2537338
K. Durant2346138
G. Allen1151236
J. Nurkic6106531
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
E. Gordon502018
B. Bol22007
R. O’Neale021014
D. Eubanks092316
T. Young
I. Thomas
D. Lee
J. Okogie
U. Azubuike
I. Wainright
S. Lee
N. Little
D. Roddy
Total105383017236