Game Rewind: Pacers 116, Suns 97
The Pacers entered the fourth quarter leading the Phoenix Suns by just four points. But to start the fourth quarter, Indiana opened up the period on a 9-3 run.
When Phoenix threatened to rally with a with a T.J. Warren 3-pointer, Paul George responded quickly with an and-one basket to ignite the crowd, as the Pacers cruised to the 116-97 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.
“We were just trying to take care of our home court,” said George Hill, who scored 20 points. “Knowing that we have a tough schedule coming up with a West coast trip.”
For the Pacers, the scoring duties were a full-team effort, with four of the five starters reaching double-figures, and C.J. Miles coming off the bench to add 19 points.
George and Monta Ellis both took their turns at the helm to guide Indiana to the win.
Ellis, who had been held scoreless in the first half, notched 12 points in the third quarter, using a variety of spinning layups and cuts to the basket to generate offense for the Blue & Gold.
In the fourth quarter, it was George who came on, scoring nine of his game-high 21 in the final period and dazzling the crowd with a kinetic dribbling sequence that culminated in a Miles 3-pointer to push the Pacers’ lead to 14.
“Monta (Ellis) can really get to the basket,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Paul (George) can get in there. George Hill with his floaters. You know, I thought we did a pretty decent job. We ran a little free zone out there just to see and they happen to miss some shots and then they made them.”
But despite the double-digit, bench-emptying win, the game was a tight affair until fourth quarter began.
The night began with a 14-3 Pacers run, but Indiana was overtaken by the plucky Suns midway through the second quarter when Mizra Teletovic hit a 3-pointer to put Phoenix up 39-38. However, shortly after, some of the lights at The Fieldhouse experienced an outage — as did much of Indianapolis — causing a 20-minute stoppage in play. When the teams came back out to play, the Pacers closed the half out strong with a 14-3 run to take a 10-point advantage into the break.
In the third, the Suns erupted for a 34-point quarter, but were kept at bay by a last-second jumper from Glenn Robinson III to close the period with the Pacers up by four.
But when the final quarter began, the Pacers seemed ready to put the game to bed, outscoring Phoenix 36-21 in the fourth and sending the Suns to their 11th loss in their last 12 games.
“I think we just ran out of gas,” said Devin Booker, who finished the night with 19 points.
For the Pacers, they’ll need to refuel their tanks as quickly as possible, as they travel to Boston for a back-to-back tomorrow night.
“It’s going to be a tough game. It’s going to be a tough environment, but we’re ready for it,” Ian Mahinmi said. “You have to get your rest tonight and come ready to play. You have to be mentally tough to do your job at the highest level.”
Inside the Numbers
The Pacers outscored the Suns 27-11 on the fast break and 40-28 in the paint.
It was Indiana’s first game scoring over 100 points in a win since its late-December win over the Timberwolves.
The Pacers shot over 50 percent from the field for the sixth time this season.
You Can Quote Me On That
“We have a lot of guys that can score the ball … It’s on us. When we have those bad shooting nights, it’s because we’re forcing, not making the extra pass and playing the right way.” -George Hill
“It’s tough, man, it’s tough. But you have to keep playing in this league. The games keep coming. It’s especially tough at this time of the year, when you get guys that get sick or that get injured. It’s next man up. But you have to keep trying and you have to keep playing.” -Suns SF P.J. Tucker on playing shorthanded
“Coming off the bench is just a different type of engagement. You have to keep yourself engaged in the game. It’s kind of a benefit sometimes, because you get to see what the defense is doing, you get to see how to guard things, and you see what things you can bring to the table. I just try to come off the bench and bring energy.” -C.J. Miles on coming off the bench.
by Greg Rappaport