The Pacers are proving to be pretty good at losing, as well as winning this year. When it is time to cough up an L they leave no doubt. Their last three losses, and five of their eight losses on the season, were by double-digits.
The Suns scorched the Pacers from all over the place on Wednesday night and there appeared to be nothing the Pacers could do to stop it. Indiana's league-leading defense gave up a season high 124 points as the Suns followed a familiar formula for beating the Pacers.
It's no secret that the Pacers focus on defending the rim and the three-point line so breaking through in one of those areas will likely lead to a win for any opponent. The Detroit Pistons did their damage around the rim when they surprised the Pacers and cashed in on 20 offensive rebounds.
But the more common problem is a team lighting it up from the perimeter. Atlanta spread the floor with their bigs which helped nullify Roy Hibbert's impact on the defensive end, then knocked down 10 three-pointers to frustrate the Pacers all night.
The Suns followed the same formula but to far greater success on Wednesday night. The starters for Phoenix made 61 percent of their shots, but when you figure in their effort from behind the arc, making 8 of 11 triples, the FG efficiency was 79.5 percent.
It's not easy to win that way which is a big reason the Pacers are still 33-8, but the Suns made the task appear simple last night. David West had some early success making the Suns pay in the paint but tweaked his hand and never got it going again after he eventually returned. Likewise, Hibbert never established a presence down low and battled foul trouble all night, which often happens when opponents make him move away from the rim.
It also didn't help that the Pacers appeared to approach the game like a pick-up game with old friends. Sure, there's a natural human tendency for the players to think they would have a big advantage over Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee, two players who were practice fodder last season. But both of those guys had something for their former teammates. The Pacers lack of winning focus was apparent on a pair of possession out of time outs, normally a strength of this team, when they completely botched the set and had to fire a desperation shot to beat the shot clock.
This sure sets up a nice rematch next week when the Suns visit Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the Pacers first game back home which should definitely have their full attention.
The Pacers still have work to do on the road, though with their next stop on Friday at Sacramento to play a banged-up Kings team. Indiana usually bounces back quite well, but now they need to win both games of a tough back-to-back this weekend to salvage a quality road trip.
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