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Game Thread #35: Indiana Pacers at Phoenix Suns

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Phoenix Suns
12-21 19-12
January 7, 2009 - 9:00PM EST
US Airways Arena
Radio: 1070AM WFNI TV: Fox Sports Indiana
Probable starters:
Jarrett Jack PG Steve Nash
Mike Dunleavy SG Jason Richardson
Danny Granger SF Grant Hill
Troy Murphy PF Amare Stoudemire
Roy Hibbert C Shaquille O'Neal

The Indiana Pacers are in Phoenix for game two of their five-game road trip. The Pacers played the Suns tough in November at the Fieldhouse but Amare Stoudemire's 49 points ensured the Suns pulled out the W. Now the Suns have won four of their last five and added Jason Richardson to the mix.

The Pacers did a pretty good job of taking care of the ball in Denver, save for a stretch of a few turnovers during a 21-3 run by the Nuggets. Valuing the ball will again be a huge factor, as always.

The Pacers also need to improve their defensive effort drastically, or else they will be looking at the wrong side of a 20-point game again. With Shaq and Amare, the Suns will have no problem attacking the paint which has caused the Pacers problems all year. Somehow, someway the Pacers have to put together a team effort on defense to have a shot at the W.

Here are the Pacers.com matchups. Mike Dunleavy appears set to make his season debut tonight which is a wonderful development. Mike Wells reports on Dun and his teammates looking forward to him jumping into the mix. Good thing too, becasue T.J. Ford did not practice yesterday and Maquis Daniels had an MRI. Both are day-to-day so we won't really know who is available until the ball is tipped. UPDATED: With Marquis Daniels ailling, Dun may start but still be limited to 20 minutes.

For a Phoenix perspective, check out Bright Side of the Sun and Ben's Suns Blog.

Gameday Reading

  • Bruno's latest Caught in the Web looks at all of the learning opportunities the Pacers have had throughout the close games they've played so far. What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger. Also, Mike Dunleavy is listed as day-to-day instead of out for the game in Phoenix. Yay!
  • Pacers Notebook speculates finds Danny Granger more than willing to take part in the All-Star 3-point shooting contest.
    "I'd definitely do it," he said. "They'd have to watch out for me if I did it, too."
    "I'd go through all those racks of balls and have a chance to win it," Granger said. "It would be fun if I could do it."
  • Talkhoops.net Eight-Second Violation for Tuesday includes my thoughts in a little post-loss-to-the-Nuggets Q & A.
  • In case you missed it, check out Monday's episode (eppaasooode 3 6 5) of The Basketball Jones, the Jones boys had an exchange about the Toronto Raptors (around 5:30 mark) that included comments about Jermaine O'Neal making it eerily reminiscent of hundreds of conversations by Pacers fans regarding J.O. over the past couple of years. Offense flows better without J.O. Offense gets clogged when he's in there and J.O. wants the ball. Maybe things will change when he returns. I imagine there's an old thread or ten over at Pacers Digest batting around these same issues.
  • Continuing on the podcast beat, Mark Boyle has a great conversation with long-time play-by-play voice of the Phoenix Suns, Al McCoy. McCoy relays a great story about his experience calling the Gar Heard game from 1976 Suns-Celtics Finals.

Leave your comments and observations on the game in the comments.