NEW ORLEANS – Chris Paul was dismissed for 14 on the best shooting night in NBA playoff history, Devin Booker returned to hit a late 3-pointer from a hamstring injury and the Phoenix Suns defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 115-109 on Thursday night. Ended up defeating. Six matches out of the first round series.
Paul had the most field goals without a miss in a playoff game, hitting all four of his free throws and eight assists as the top-seeded Suns crossed a 10-point halftime deficit.
Phoenix will face the Dallas-Utah winner in the second round.
Paul helped keep the Sun up for good, on 102-101, an assist with 2:12 on Deandre Ayton’s dunk. Ayton had 22 points in 12 shooting out of 10.
The Suns made 13 of their first 14 shots in the third quarter to take a 77-74 lead to erase a 10-point halftime deficit. At the time, Paul was a 10 out of 10 and Ayton was a 6 out of 6. Paul had 13 points in the quarter, but New Orleans used an 11-5 run to take an 85-82 lead in the final period.
Booker played for the first time in nine days since injuring his right hamstring after scoring 31 points in the first half of Game 2. He scored 13 points on 12 of 5 shooting and made five rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes.
Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 21 points.
The game became difficult in the second quarter – 16 fouls were called – and the Pelicans seemed to rejoice in physical play, outsmarting the Suns 30-20 to take a 58-48 halftime lead.
SUNS: Phoenix coach Monty Williams has said Booker has improved his conditioning over the past several days by playing one-on-one with assistant coach Jarrett Jacks as he treats a hamstring injury. “He’s been on the floor with Jack so many times, doing the best he can to get to that point,” Williams said.
Pelicans: The Pelicans started the season 1-12 and 3-16 but still made it to the play-in tournament and pushed the top seed Suns into Game 6. … the Pelicans overcame the Suns 279-215 in six playoff games.