Pelicans going through growing pains

The youngest team in the NBA endured a painful growing experience Tuesday night as the New Orleans Pelicans faced the Phoenix Suns at home in the New Orleans Arena.

The Pelicans started hot and went up by as much as 14 points in the first quarter, due in large part to strong shooting from starting guard Eric Gordon and a powerful rebounding presence from big man Jason Smith.  In the second quarter though, the Suns cranked up their three point shooting to begin chipping away at that lead.

The game truly unraveled for New Orleans in the third quarter though, when Phoenix put up a monster 37 points, including sinking 7 of 10 3-point attempts.

“They got hot,” head coach Monty Williams said. “It seemed like everything they put up went in.”

New Orleans will need to find a way to turn up the energy and learn to win. The Pelicans defense must also find itself.

The Suns committed more turnovers, but defended their mistakes better.  Phoenix turned the ball over 16 times, which translated into 12 points for New Orleans. The Pelicans turned it over 14 times, but the Suns converted that into 20 points.

The Pelicans also failed to slow the Suns three point shooting, which was an emphasis in the gameplay and, as predicted, a factor in the contest’s outcome. Phoenix sank 12 out of 25 three-point attempts.

“We had too many guys going to help,” Williams said. “That’s on me. We teach a certain way to play pick-and-roll defense, and Bledsoe just ate it up.”

The Suns triumphed 104-98.

Bright spots the Pelicans will try to build on:

• Anthony Davis posted his 23rd career double-double and his third in four games this season with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He also had 5 blocked shots.

• The Pelicans out paced Phoenix in transition, scoring 24 fast break points to the Suns 20.

• Eric Gordon led the team in scoring with 20 points, then added 5 assists. His knee appears to be healthy, as he prepares for the team’s second back-to-back of this season.

• Backup point guard Brian Roberts did an admirable job stepping in for Jrue Holiday when the starter found himself in early foul trouble. Roberts played 29:35 and accounted for 17 points and 5 assists.

• The Pelicans take on the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night at Fed Ex Forum in Tennessee. Tipoff: 7 p.m. CT on Fox Sports New Orleans.