Phoenix – Missing Devin Booker And with New Orleans pelicans putting a lot of pressure on Chris PaulPhoenix Suns obtained a landmark effort from Michael Bridges To regain control of the playoff series in the first round of the NBA with a 112-97 victory in Game 5 to advance 3-2.
Bridges had perhaps the best offensive and defensive game of his career as he finished with 31 points on 12 of 17 shots with four blocks and steals. With Suns desperate to improve their three-point shooting, Bridges made all four of his attempts. Then there was his defense on the ball: The Pelicans were just 1 of 14 shots when Bridges, his long arms and tireless efforts intercepted their shots, according to ESPN Stats & Information Tracking. He played all but 66 seconds of the game.
“We put it [Bridges] Suns coach Monty Williams said: “We can’t reproduce him, but we wish we could. He has the energy to score offensively too.”
Bridges finished the match with two confirmed pieces, showing no sign of fatigue, a vital energy flow for the Suns. Booker missed his third game in a row with a hamstring injury, and the Pelicans entered the match to test Paul and his left hand.
Paul missed the time earlier this season with a left thumb injury and appeared to hit a finger on the same hand in the second quarter of Sunday’s fourth game loss. He did not score in that match after the first quarter. He taped several fingers together on Sunday and then did it again on Tuesday as the Pelicans played him hard on his right side and tried to force him to go left. They also pressured him fully, a tactic used throughout the series.
Williams said Paul is healthy, but changed his playing plan to ease some of the burden on the veteran base. The plan called for Paul to raise the ball lower to the ground to conserve energy and avoid the double teams that the Pelicans used aggressively in Game Four. Paul, who has a history of hand and wrist injuries, showed few signs of anything that bothered him during his recording. 16 of his 21 first-half points to help the Suns take a lead.
“Seventeen years, same,” Paul said of the Pelican strategy. “I’ve been playing for a long time. That’s what most teams go to, to take you into the whole field and do all these different things.”
The Pelicans may need to come up with a game plan for managing bridges in Thursday’s game six. He’s been a vital cog in everything the Suns have done because he’s taken the second most shots in a game of the season. The Sun also found themselves in bad trouble with Cameron Payne And Jay Crowder Limited, expanding the role of bridges even further.
“Just play hard, that’s the most important thing,” Bridges said. “Just play hard and play for each other.”
Bridges played more against the star swans Brandon Ingram More than any other time in the series, Ingram was just 1 in 4 with Bridges defending him. Ingram scored 22 points but missed 12 of his 19 shots. Bridges have collapsed CJ McCollum, which was 1 of 9 with Bridges on it. McCollum had 21 points but missed 15 of 22 shots and only shoots 37% in the series, and Bridges was the biggest reason for that.
But perhaps the most impressive way to put Bridges’ performance in context is: Only seven players in history have had a 30-point game with four three-pointers and four blocks, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“Oh, my God, that’s crazy,” Bridges said when he was shown the list.