With Devin Booker still out, and coming off a flat performance in Game 4, the Phoenix Suns needed someone to step on Tuesday night or the No. 1 seed could find itself on the brink of elimination.
Chris Paul stepped up with one of his more aggressive, attacking games. That inspired teammates, in particular Mikal Bridges, who had a monster all-around game with 31 points, four blocked shots and some dagger dunks at the end.
The Suns beat the Pelicans 112-97 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. Game 6 is Thursday night in New Orleans, with the Phoenix having a chance to close out the series on the road.
Phoenix looked like a 64-win team and contender again in this game (after not looking anything close to that in Game 4). A lot of that was a better defensive effort that held the Pelicans to a 102.1 offensive rating, nine points below their season average (stats via Cleaning the Glass).
It’s fair to question how much Paul will have left in the tank for that game after a huge effort over 39 minutes — he started to look tired at times. CP3 still finished with 22 points and 11 assists.
Bridges, who is known more for his defense (he was one of the finalists for Defensive Player of the Year), did most of his damage at the rim — he shot 7-of-11 in the paint — but was also 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. And he played some great defense on CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram, too.
4 blocks 🖐🏾
Mikal Bridges is at a postseason career high! pic.twitter.com/9qDuv2EHvt
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) April 27, 2022
Bridges also played a lot — 47 minutes — and it will be tough ask for him to have that same energy 48 hours later.
Phoenix also got 19 points from Jae Crowder and a dozen from Cam Payne off the bench in a strong outing for him.
Ingram had 22 points to lead the Pelicans, and McCollum had 21.