The Phoenix Suns lost their best player on Tuesday night, and it may end up costing them more than just Game 2.
The New Orleans Pelicans pulled off the 125-114 upset to even up their opening-round playoff series with the top team in the Western Conference at the Footprint Center on Tuesday.
That win came after Suns star Devin Booker went down with a hamstring injury in the second half.
Booker left the game late in the third quarter following a massive first-half performance and went to the locker room. He returned to the bench for the final period, but the Suns quickly ruled him out of the rest of the game with what they called right hamstring tightness.
Suns head coach Monty Williams didn’t have much of an update after the game, but said he thinks Booker tweaked his hamstring on one particular play in the third quarter when trying to chase down Jaxson Hayes at the rim.
It’s unclear how severe that injury is, or how long he may be out. Booker missed seven games this past regular season with a hamstring injury, but it was to his other leg.
Booker finished Tuesday night with 31 points, all in the first half, while shooting 7-of-10 from the 3-point line.
Despite his heroics, the Suns held just a five-point lead at halftime. That lead, after Booker left the contest, disappeared almost instantly. New Orleans snagged a seven-point advantage headed into the fourth quarter and closed the game on a 28-16 run spanning the final 7:30. The Pelicans held Phoenix to just one point in the final 2:25.
“The transition defense. That was probably for us the worst we’ve ever looked in transition since I’ve been here,” Williams told reporters postgame. “For that to happen in a playoff game was unsettling for everybody… That was the change in my eyes and then they got hot from 3.”
The Pelicans’ critical win came thanks to a huge outing from Brandon Ingram, who was just shy of recording his first career triple-double. Ingram finished with 37 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists on the night after shooting 13-of-21 from the field. CJ McCollum added 23 points with nine assists and eight rebounds while making six 3-pointers. New Orleans shot nearly 55% from behind the arc while draining 17 3-pointers.
The win marked the Pelicans’ first playoff victory since 2018.
“They played unbelievable tonight,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green said. “The biggest adjustment, like I said before, we figured it out in the second half of the first game that we have to play harder and we have to set the tone early. I thought for the most part they did a really good job of being physical, sharing the basketball, playing faster and just playing with more force.”
Mikal Bridges added 19 points for the Suns, and Chris Paul finished with 17 points and 14 assists. Paul has now lost 14 straight playoff games that have been officiated by Scott Foster. The Suns were outrebounded by 10 and had 12 turnovers on the night.
Though the severity of Booker’s injury is unclear, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Suns. They will now head on the road with their first series of the postseason tied up 1-1. If Booker is out for an extended time, the Pelicans could take full advantage.