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Bridges shines on both ends of the court, Suns win Game 5 versus Pelicans

Fans flooded Footprint Center to celebrate the Suns win over the Pelicans on Tuesday night. The Suns are up 3-2 in the series.
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 9:42 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Mikal Bridges had a career night on the defense side of the ball with a career playoff-high four blocks and added 31 points to elevate the Phoenix Suns to a Game 5 win against the New Orleans Pelicans, 112-97. The Suns are up 3-2 in the series and can clinch the first-round series win Thursday night in New Orleans. Cam Johnson put the exclamation point on the game with a huge dunk with 1:55 left, and the Pelicans missed three shots after that. The comeback wasn’t happening this time in Phoenix.

With less than five minutes to go, Chris Paul was whistled for an eight-second violation thanks to the defense of the Pelicans’ Jose Alvarado. It was the second straight game Paul had that violation. Paul was then called for a technical foul. It could have been a time when New Orleans mounted a comeback, but instead, after a Brandon Ingram free throw, Paul nailed a 10-foot jumper to put the lead at nine, 102-93. The veteran bounced back from a dismal Game 4, scoring 22 points and having 11 assists.

The third quarter has been a struggle for the Suns, getting outscored by an average of 11 points. But it was different on Tuesday night, with the Pelicans only outscoring them by two points, 32-30. Bridges played all 12 minutes and scored 11 points in the quarter, while Cameron Payne added 5 points despite being in foul trouble. Jae Crowder started to come alive in the third quarter, scoring five points, but he picked up his fifth foul with seven minutes left. Suns led 89-78 at the end of three. The team is now 50-0 when leading after three quarters.

The Suns started the first quarter getting Paul and Deandre Ayton involved. Both had eight points in the quarter. After struggling during the first four games, Payne was 2-3 in the quarter and had a three-pointer for seven points but picked up three fouls. Suns had an advantage in the paint, 18-12. The second quarter was more even, with the Suns scoring 27 points to the Pelicans 26. Bridges had three blocks in the half, and the Suns led 59-46 at halftime.

Bridges is the 7th player in NBA history to have 30 points, 4 made threes, and four blocks in a playoff game. The others? LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, and Vince Carter.

Coaches and fans alike were looking at free throw totals for both teams. On Tuesday night, the Pelicans had 35 free throws, making 28 of them. The Suns went to the line 20 times and made 16 free throws. It wasn’t as bad compared to Game 4. That’s when the Pelicans shot 42 free throws, making 32 of them, while the Suns shot only 15, making 10. New Orleans was called for 16 fouls, compared to 28 for the Suns. Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams was fined $15,000 for his criticism of the officials. On Tuesday, the NBA admitted it missed a flagrant foul against Herbert Jones, who shoved Chris Paul to the ground during the third quarter.

Once again, the Phoenix Suns were without their best player, All-Star Devin Booker. He left Game 2 with a hamstring strain. He’s not expected to return in the series.

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker watches play from the bench during the first half of Game 5 of...
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker watches play from the bench during the first half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the New Orleans Pelicans, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)(Matt York | AP)