The Indiana Pacers completed a wire-to-wire victory over the Phoenix Suns without much concern, returning to home with a purpose. The two teams played close early, but Indiana would slowly pull away, using a 14-2 run in the first quarter to go up double figures, never looking back en route to a blowout win.
Indiana build their lead up to 20 in the second quarter to put them in great position for the third quarter. Fortunately for them, the Suns opted to not come out of the locker room, granting the Pacers free reign to score without consequence. The Pacers outscored Phoenix 16-2 out of the break, building a 38-point lead.
Most impressively in this stretch was the purpose and energy the Pacers played with even during the game being far, far out of reach. Victor Oladipo, fresh off his first All-Star nod, led the way in making sure the Pacers didn’t get complacent at any point.
The Pacers are up 34 in a laugher and Oladipo dead sprinted to contest this lay-up after Lance committed the turnover.— Caitlin Cooper (@C2_Cooper) January 25, 2018
Coronate the man, already. pic.twitter.com/lWahrz4yG0
The Pacers shot over 60% for much of the game, with Oladipo scoring 21 points on 6-11 shooting, coming up with nine assists and three steals. As a team, the Pacers had 32 assists on 45 field goals and picked up 26 points off turnovers, highlighting their strengths in the win.
Thaddeus Young led the way for the Pacers with 22 points (10-13 shooting) and three steals. Young scored 12 in the first quarter to help push the Pacers into their double figure lead in the first. All five Pacers starters shot 50% or better, including a 3-6 night from Joe Young, making his first NBA start in the absence of Darren Collison.
Domantas Sabonis finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. Sabonis also finished with a team high one offensive rebound, a testament to the level the Pacers played at offensively tonight. Bojan Bogdanovic had 17 on 6-9 shooting, shooting 3-5 from deep, capitalizing on the poor defensive awareness of Devin Booker and the Suns, getting easy layups in transition while Booker guards players without the ball.
Off the bench, the Pacers got a very good night from Al Jefferson, who scored 10, working against Greg Monroe, who was the lone force for the Suns with 16 points and 17 rebounds. The Pacers saw their lead chipped away in the late stages of garbage time in part because of Lance Stephenson, who let the game get to his head before Oladipo returned to action to secure the victory.
The Suns didn’t appear all too interested in playing tonight’s game once the Pacers pushed their lead to 20, so all the credit to Indiana for making sure Phoenix didn’t have any life in them before they were forced to stage a 38-point comeback. Phoenix did outscore the Pacers 36-17 in the fourth, finishing the game on a respectable note, but it was ultimately too little too late as the Pacers move to 26-22 on the season.
A feel-good victory returning home where the Pacers opened up offensively was just what the team needed after failing to break 100 in each of the last three road games. Indiana will need to carry over this success on Friday when they wrap up their season series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland will enter with well-publicized struggles, but the Pacers can ill-afford to overlook this game as they move to within a half game of the 5th seeded Wizards with tonight’s win.
Indiana should be motivated as a team, but so too should be Oladipo, who can look to either justify or discredit the picks LeBron James will make for the All-Star team before the Pacers and Cavs play on Friday.