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Opinion

Suns eclipsed by Pelicans in Game 4, series locked up at 2-2

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Roar Rookie
25th April, 2022
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New Orleans has again stunned the No.1-seeded Phoenix Suns at Smoothie King Center, 118-103.

The Pelicans seized control in the second half, led again by Brandon Ingram’s 30 points and Jonas Valanciunas with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Valanciunas responded emphatically in Game 4 after a below average performance in Game 3.

The Suns were in foul trouble early, with starters Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson both sitting on four fouls each midway through the third. The bulk of the work was again left up to Chris Paul funnelling assists through to Deandre Ayton in the paint.

It was all too one-dimensional for the Suns as the younger Pelicans showed the No.1 seeds no respect. Herbert Jones and Jose Alvarado swamped the Suns with their defensive efforts.

The Pelicans attacked Paul with stifling defence, leaving the future Hall of Famer with 4 points, 11 assists and 3 rare turnovers. The workload that is being left up to Paul in the absence of Devin Booker was laid bare in Game 4, the Suns struggled for contributors. Cameron Johnson couldn’t get going as the fill-in starter for Booker, managing 13 points, including three 3-pointers.

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The Suns still have not given a timeline on the return of Booker, who missed Games 3 and 4 with a grade 1 hamstring strain. The Pelicans will travel to Phoenix for Game 5 where confidence is riding high on the basis they have nothing to lose. The stakes couldn’t be higher for the Suns, who finished the season with a league and franchise-best record of 64-18.

If New Orleans pull off the unthinkable, they will have to win in Phoenix which they did in Game 2 against a full-strength Suns. The Pelicans would be the fifth No.8 seed to dethrone a No.1 seed in the first round and the first as a play-in team finishing ninth in the Western Conference and getting past the Los Angeles Clippers to earn a playoff spot.

All eyes will be on Game 5 in Phoenix and the Suns as they look to put the brakes on a rampaging New Orleans.

Tip-off is scheduled for Wednesday at 8:00am AEST.

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