The return of Myles Turner proved a cure-all for one night, helping the Indiana Pacers past the Phoenix Suns in blowout fashion. The Pacers looked their part defensively, holding an opponent under 100 points for the first time since December 28, also the last time the Pacers scored a 30-point victory.
As expected, Turner started slow, but picked things up late in the second quarter, scoring the last seven of the half for the Pacers in the final 2:21. He scored nine more in the third quarter, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds, and two blocks, those both coming on back-to-back possessions late in the third.
The Pacers had allowed 50% shooting in all five games of their recent road trip, but managed to stifle the Suns into 42% tonight while holding them under 50% in the paint in the first and third quarters. That success inside helped set the tone for the Pacers on the other end, outscoring Phoenix 72-41 in those quarters.
Indiana largely dominated the game from the opening tip as Bojan Bogdanovic scored the first 10 of the game for the Pacers, leading them to double up the Suns 38-19 after one. Things changed in Phoenix’s favor in the second quarter, however. The Pacers put them into the penalty a minute into the quarter, and the prevalence of whistles on both ends disrupted the flow of the game for Indiana.
To make things harder, the Suns played clean, committing no turnovers in the second quarter. The Pacers, typically thriving offensively off of turnovers, were left to largely languish, needing nearly eight minutes to reach 10 points. All the while, the Suns had slowly chipped away at the lead, bringing it to within seven a couple of times.
Bogdanovic would hit a three with 3:20 left to make it double figures. Turner’s run helped push the lead to 15, but Phoenix finished strong with four straight to make it 11 at the break. The Turner/Bogdanovic scoring punch kept the double figure lead in tact as Darren Collison scored eight straight as part of a 10-0 Pacers run to put it out of reach for good.
Bogdanovic led seven Pacers in double figures with 20 points. In addition to the 10 points he scored to open the game, he dished to Thaddeus Young on a fast break, passing up what could’ve been his 11th and 12th point to reward Young, who set up the play on a steal and finished with 12 points himself.
The Pacers found considerable success off of turnovers and in the fast break, scoring 27 in transition as part of 29 off of turnovers. Eleven of Phoenix’s 19 turnovers came on steals, led by Collison with three. Two came in the opening quarter, but it was the third that really buried any chance the Suns had in the game, setting him up for an easy two after hitting back-to-back threes, pushing the lead to 19.
After some early success from the second unit, things got a bit dicey in the second quarter, but they managed to avoid a follow-up in the fourth, closing the door on the game after Phoenix had trimmed a 26-point deficit to 17 in the early stages of the final period. Cory Joseph hit some big shots as part of his 10 points, including a step back to halt Phoenix’s final push.
The Suns would score just two points across the next six minutes while the Pacers piled on, jumping up by as many as 37. That run was headlined by Tyreke Evans. Evans scored four quick points in the first quarter, but failed to build upon that until the fourth quarter where he woke up, scoring 14.
He did a bulk of his damage at the rim, finishing with 20 points on 6-8 shooting, as well as 7-8 from the free throw line on a night the Pacers thrived on volume free throw shooting, going 27-36. Domantas Sabonis struggled the most of any Pacer at the free throw line, going just 4-7 on his 14 point, eight rebound night.
This blowout win including a season high in points, was done almost entirely without the scoring help of Victor Oladipo. Oladipo had just eight points on 2-11 shooting, missing six shots in the third quarter, forcing looks in an attempt to jump start his night. He did come out of the gates well, scoring six in the first quarter.
Despite the struggles shooting, Oladipo did make an impact on the game after Phoenix had threatened in the second quarter, dishing five assists to help push Indiana double their advantage from 13 to 26. One of his two steals came in this stretch, setting up Turner on the other end for a jumper.
The Pacers start their five game home stand on a positive note with the take-care-of-business victory. A more difficult schedule looms, however, starting Thursday night when they host the visiting Philadelphia 76ers, fresh off their own blowout win tonight.
The game will be a national affair on TNT and will be crucial in the Eastern Conference standings. The two teams will meet up with their season series tied 1-1 and the winner will exit as the third place team in the East as Philly sits just one game back of the 29-14 Pacers at 29-16.