Mikal Bridges Took Over In Game 5 To Give Put The Suns Up 3-2


The Phoenix Suns found themselves in an unexpected position heading into Game 5 tied at 2-2 with the Pelicans, struggling to separate themselves from the West’s 8-seed with Devin Booker sidelined with a hamstring injury.

On Wednesday night, it was their veteran leader in Chris Paul who came out and set the tone early, hitting six of his first eight shots in the first half to help push the Suns to a double-digit advantage early on.

Around Paul, the other Suns, who had been cold from three all series, warmed up and Phoenix was able to dart out to a 13-point advantage at the half, one that would’ve been larger had it not been for the efforts of Brandon Ingram on the other side.


In the second half, Paul cooled off but the Suns were still able to extend their lead thanks to a takeover from Mikal Bridges, who caught fire from three and also provided his usual spectacular defense on the other end.

The Suns took a 17-point lead in the third quarter, but New Orleans once again refused to go away, chipping that down to an 11-point deficit at the end of the quarter behind Ingram’s continued shot-making and some timely buckets from Jonas Valanciunas and Larry Nance Jr.

Early in the fourth quarter, it was more of the Mikal Bridges show, as Phoenix once again started the quarter strong, pushing their lead up to 13 with eight minutes to go.

However, as has been the case all series, the Pelicans would not simply fade away after a Suns run, and like in Game 4, rookie Jose Alvarado provided a key boost in helping cut the lead down to as few as seven midway through the quarter with a three, a tough finish at the rim, and his second 8-second violation forced against Chris Paul.


However, the Pelicans could never fully reel the Suns in, as Phoenix had an answer every time they got within seven. Whether it was a Paul midrange jumper or this Cam Johnson dunk in semi-transition, New Orleans was unable to get the requisite stops to pull off another comeback win.


It was an encouraging game for a few reasons for the Suns, none bigger than seeing Mikal Bridges find his form offensively after a rough go of it in the first four games. Bridges finished with 31 points (a new playoff career-high), five rebounds, four blocks, and three steals, punctuating the win with a pair of dunks in the final minute to get the Phoenix crowd on its feet.

Chris Paul finished with 22 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, and three steals, bouncing back from a 4-point outing in Game 4 and giving Phoenix the steadying presence early on they needed to settle in to a pivotal game. Deandre Ayton likewise had a strong start with a 10-point first quarter and finished with 19 and nine rebounds, as he continues to do battle inside with Jonas Valanciunas (17 points and 14 rebounds).

For the Pelicans, Ingram had 22 points, five assists, and five rebounds, but could not find his stroke down the stretch as Bridges bothered him with his length. CJ McCollum had 21 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, but likewise struggled with efficiency, needing 22 shots for those 21 points. As the series shifts back to New Orleans for Game 6, the Pelicans will hope being back at home can settle the nerves early, while the Suns will look to sustain four quarters of strong play on the road this time after feeling like they gave one away in Game 4.

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