New Orleans Pelicans vs. Phoenix Suns Pick & Prediction JANUARY 19th 2024

The New Orleans Pelicans and the Phoenix Suns have been strengthening their position in the tightly contested Western Conference the last few weeks. Both teams have won eight of their last 11 games as they prepare to meet Friday at New Orleans. “It’s extremely close and very competitive in the West,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said Thursday. “You just continue to go game by game and review where you are after each game.” New Orleans, which hosts two more Western contenders on its current homestand, has improved its 3-point shooting recently after inconsistencies. After testing those improvements against the Suns, the Pelicans will then face the Utah Jazz on Tuesday and the Oklahoma City Thunder next Friday. The Pelicans made a franchise-record 25 3-pointers and shot 53.2 percent from beyond the arc in a 132-112 victory over the visiting Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. That performance came two days after they took a mere 23 attempts from 3-point range in a 125-120 loss on the road against the Dallas Mavericks. They made seven from distance in that game. “We’ve been playing fast and with force on offense,” Green said. “The way we have been driving and kicking for 3s has been great.” The Pelicans’ addition of rookie first-round draft pick Jordan Hawkins to a group that includes marksmen CJ McCollum and Trey Murphy III has been a boost to the outside shooting as New Orleans works on volume and efficiency. Hawkins, who scored a season-high 34 in a road win against the Mavericks on Saturday, contributed six 3-pointers on nine attempts against Charlotte and had 21 points. “He’s confident, he’s got a quick release, he works on his craft,” McCollum said of Hawkins. “He’s a smart basketball player, knows how to find open spaces, shoot when he’s open, and drive when he’s not.” The Suns also had an historic 3-point effort in their most recent game. Grayson Allen tied a franchise record by making nine 3-pointers in a 119-117 victory against visiting Sacramento on Tuesday night. It was the second time in six games that Allen, acquired from Milwaukee in an offseason trade, had nine made baskets from distance. “He’s making nine 3s every other game, so I wasn’t expecting that,” Phoenix head coach Frank Vogel said with a chuckle. “In a lot of ways, honestly, he’s a better shooter than we anticipated. He’s better putting the ball on the floor and making plays, and he’s probably better defensively guarding top matchups, and those things have been invaluable for us.” Allen credited his success to “a lot of good offense, a lot of good ball movement.” “A lot of them were off of somebody else collapsing on defense and kicking out,” Allen added. “A lot of them were assisted.” The Suns trailed the Kings by 22 points with fewer than nine minutes remaining and finished on a 23-4 run. “We have seen firsthand that in the modern NBA teams are never out of a game,” Vogel said. Phoenix All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who made two free throws for the decisive points with 1.8 seconds left, couldn’t explain exactly how the turnaround came about. “I have no clue,” Durant said. “I usually know how the game is flowing, but I felt like this was a blur. Everything happened so fast.”

–Field Level Media

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