Brandon Ingram scored 37 points, CJ McCollum added 23 and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the top-seeded Phoenix Suns 125-114 on Tuesday night in Game 2, evening the series in their Western Conference first-round matchup.
Not only did the Suns lose the game, but they’re unsure about the health status of All-Star guard Devin Booker, who was spectacular in the first half with 31 points before leaving with right hamstring tightness in the third quarter.
The Suns — who led the NBA with a franchise-record 64 wins during the regular season — trailed 77-74 when he departed.
Phoenix kept the game close without its leading scorer and even took a lead early in the fourth, but the Pelicans rallied, getting big 3s from Jose Alvarado, Ingram and McCollum to take an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish.
Ingram added tough back-to-back jumpers in the closing minutes to keep a final Suns rally at bay. New Orleans earned its first playoff win since 2018.
Ingram finished 13 of 21 shooting from the field.
Game 3 is on Friday in New Orleans.
The Pelicans admitted they were a little surprised by the intensity of their Game 1 loss, especially during the first half when they fell into a 19-point halftime hole. They didn’t make the same mistake on Tuesday, taking a 30-28 lead after one quarter.
The Suns rallied for a 61-56 halftime advantage thanks to Booker scoring spree. He scored all of his 31 in the first half on 12 of 18 shooting, including 7 of 10 from 3-point range. He hit a 30-footer just before the halftime buzzer after the Pelicans inexplicably left him open.
Booker left the game and went to the locker room late in the third quarter. On the possession before he departed, he jumped to contest a fastbreak shot by New Orleans, but it wasn’t immediately clear that he was hurt.
He returned at the beginning of the fourth quarter wearing warmups and never re-entered the game. Booker missed multiple games earlier in the season with a hamstring injury.
One of the more entertaining exchanges of the game came in the third quarter when the Suns’ Mikal Bridges and Pelicans’ Jaxson Hayes swapped spectacular blocks on back-to-back possessions.
Bridges struck first, swatting Hayes’ turn-around jumper to start a Suns fastbreak. Bridges looked like he might finish with a dunk a few seconds later but Hayes recovered for his own block, trapping the ball with two hands against the backboard.
Booker scored 16 points in the first quarter on 6 of 10 shooting and his final bucket was a heartwarmer.
The guard hit a tough corner jumper just before the buzzer and fell to the floor next to the crowd. Booker looked up and there was a baby in the lap of a man right next to him, so he gave the baby a fist bump before running back to the huddle.
Pelicans: McCollum nearly had a triple-double, adding nine assists and eight rebounds.
Suns: Chris Paul finished with 17 points and 14 assists but shot just 5 of 16 from the field.