Suddenly pressure is on Suns and Herbert Jones is a big reason why


Two things about recent Alabama basketball history are true. One is former Crimson Tide player Herbert Jones was, and is, loved by Alabama fans. The other is Herbert Jones did not get enough credit for what he meant to the Tide’s 2020-21 team.

Given the college honors earned by Herbert, the second statement might be a tad harder to believe. Consider this – more than being the SEC Player of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year, Jones’ intensity was what held the Tide together on the court. He both inspired and led his Tide teammates. Most importantly, Herbert spurred on his teammates with action more than words.

Herbert Jones is doing the same thing for the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA. This season, the Pelicans were a below .500 team and needed two play-in wins to make the NBA Playoffs. They were favored in the first game with the Spurs but few pundits expected the Pels to beat the Clippers and make the NBA Playoff field.

After advancing to the NBA Playoff many NBA pundits laughed about the Pelicans’ chances to beat the Phoenix Suns. At 64-18, the Suns were the only NBA team to win more than 56 games in the regular season. With their 46 regular-season losses, the Pelicans appeared to be an easy sweep opportunity for the Suns.

All that changed for Phoenix and New Orleans when Suns’ star, Devin Booker was lost to a hamstring injury. After four games in their current Playoff series, the teams are tied 2-2 and Phoenix looks vulnerable against a hungry New Orleans team.

The Pelicans are playing confidently and a big reason why is Herbert Jones. In game four, New Orleans tied the series while Jones scored 13 points and added three assists, three blocks and two steals. The blocks were impressively on Phoenix three-point attempts.

The box score does not show the extent Jones and his teammates have challenged the Suns. Logging the most minutes guarding Chris Paul, Jones has been aggressive and effective. Writing for Yahoo Sports, Jason Owens described Herbert’s impact.

"The postseason star turn for Jones — known in the regular season for his voracious defense to folks paying attention — ramped up another notch on Sunday. The second-round rookie repeatedly flustered and frustrated the normally streamlined Suns offense to the tune of two steals and three blocks. His swipe-and-score of an inbounds pass by Suns forward Jae Crowder in the fourth quarter bothered Chris Paul so much that he swiped Jones across the face, tacking on a flagrant foul to the already disastrous sequence for the Suns."

When Paul offered a hand to help Jones up after a hard foul, Herbert declined. His teammates loved it knowing the rookie was in the head of an NBA superstar.

Commenting on the Playoff environment, Jones said he loved that the officials allow more physical play in the Playoffs. The Phoenix Suns may not agree.

Check out this season’s stats for the rising New Orleans star.

dark. Next. Crimson Tide roster changes and an Arch nugget

The Pelicans and Suns will be back at it on Tuesday night in Phoenix. And Herbert Jones will be causing problems for the Suns again.