The New Orleans Pelicans look to match their longest winning streak of the season and avoid looking too far ahead when they begin a tough road back-to-back at the Phoenix Suns on Friday. The Pelicans will leave Arizona to take on defending champion Golden State the following night, providing a significant road test for a team coming off an impressive two-game homestand.
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins combined for 53 points and 26 rebounds in Wednesday’s 107-90 win over San Antonio as New Orleans matched its best defensive effort this season. “The defense is what’s going to make our offense go and tonight we did a great job,” Davis told the media. “When we do that, we’re a tough team to beat. We really don’t like to run plays every time down. If we can get a stop and push it up the floor and get an easy basket in transition, then we’d much rather do that.” The Suns can hang in transition but give up an NBA-high 115.8 points per game and were right around that mark - albeit in overtime - in a 113-107 loss to Milwaukee at home Wednesday night. Devin Booker’s OT-forcing 3-pointer was part of a 23-point effort but Phoenix’s young star was 8-for-24 from the floor and is 13-for-39 over the last two games.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, FSN Arizona Plus (Phoenix)
ABOUT THE PELICANS (10-8): Point guard Rajon Rondo had a pedestrian line of six points, five rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes against the Spurs in his fifth game back from a hernia, but his presence has transformed New Orleans on both ends of the floor. “We’ll be scary. This is basically a brand new team, a brand new identity,” Cousins told the media. “With Rajon coming back ... now we’ve got to find a whole new way of playing — not saying we’re switching up our style but just getting him accustomed to playing with us and us playing with him.” Forward Darius Miller continues to carry the reserves and has made an eye-popping 28-of-46 3-pointers over a 10-game span.
ABOUT THE SUNS (7-12): Greg Monroe is averaging 14.5 points on 61.9 percent and 8.3 rebounds in 24 minutes in four games with Phoenix, producing 22 points and 15 boards against the Bucks. However, he was part of a group of five reserves that combined for 16 turnovers and the Suns finished with a season-high 29 overall, their highest total since Nov. 9, 1999. “From the first half on they were just really physical,” Booker told reporters. “We had 29 turnovers, it’s hard to win a game like that ... but we didn’t execute down the stretch.”
1. Davis is 25-for-29 from the line over the last two outings.
2. Suns C Tyson Chandler (illness) returned from a three-game absence to grab 12 rebounds versus Milwaukee, and he is shooting 61.3 percent at home.
3. New Orleans won three of four meetings last season. Two games were decided in overtime and all four by five points or fewer.
PREDICTION: Pelicans 116, Suns 108