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Chris Paul Closed Out Game 3 for 114-111 Suns' Victory Over Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans battled but fell short in a 114-111 Game-3 loss to Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns.

The New Orleans Pelicans battled but fell short in a 114-111 Game-3 loss to Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns.

A sold-out Smoothie King Center crowd watched the New Orleans Pelicans battle back to fall short against the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of their NBA Playoffs series. Deandre Ayton had 28 points, 17 rebounds, and 3 steals to help Chris Paul close out a 114-111 win to take a 2-1 series lead.

Herb Jones

Willie Green wanted the Pelicans to come out playing with energy and passion. He said he “wouldn't be upset about having too much juice to start, but I think we'll settle into the game like we normally do. We want to get off to a great start. That's important for us. Our habits, our routine, our preparation is what allows us to go in games, no matter how big it is, and just focus on the task at hand.”

HAYES' EJECTION WAS A PIVOTAL POINT

Jaxson Hayes was following directions early. He grabbed the first rebound and scored the first points for the team but he was not able to help out in the second half. Hayes crossed a competitive line even in an intense playoff environment, was ejected for a flagrant 2 foul after review, and Jonas Valanciunas had no help in the paint.

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The Pelicans lost focus in crucial moments, and it cost them. The second quarter was especially rough for New Orleans. They led by one after 12 minutes, but then Jaxson Hayes was ejected, the game turned chippy, and the Pelicans started making mistakes that let Phoenix stretch out an 11-point lead with a 16-5 run going into halftime. The Suns caused 14 turnovers while committing only five all night.

Ayton and McGee had 30 points in the first half. Valanciunas had just six all game. 

Hayes had four points when he was ejected from the contest. In the first half, the Suns racked up 38 points in the paint compared to just 14 for New Orleans. Most of the damage was done in the pick-and-roll with Paul and Ayton. New Orleans just had no answers on defense, especially once they were shorthanded.

The Pelicans cannot linger on this close loss too long before returning to Smoothie King Center for Game 4 on Sunday.  Green's game plan is unlikely to change, but the Pelicans need a win to ensure another home game this postseason.

Willie Green

GREEN'S PREGAME QUOTES

Coach Green said before tipoff that his team has "Just got to make it tough. Chris (Paul) is one of the best pick-and-roll players in the league or all time, and we have to force him to do things that he doesn't want to do."

Green added he thinks the Pelicans have “been solid. You know the playoffs are all about adjusting. Game-by-game you look at where you are. Really it's just doing what it takes to win the game. I thought coming down the stretch of Game 2 we got some stops, some much-needed stops. So that's going to be a key for us. Fortunately, those guys take contested shots. Getting back in transition, not giving them too many extra possessions, and offensively taking care of the basketball.”

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