A big second half fueled the Indiana Pacers back into the win column, topping the Phoenix Suns on the road. The Pacers outscored Phoenix 58-39 after the break, forcing them into utter disarray with their defense. The energy advantage favored the Suns early, so when the Pacers were able to take away Phoenix’s focus, it allowed them to turn the game into a blowout.
The Pacers never trailed tonight, ensuring that lead would hold by closingut the first on a 7-2 run spurred entirely by Aaron Holiday and Justin Holiday to lead 30-24. The bench (with Domantas Sabonis) pushed the lead into double figures, but Phoenix would close the gap to just three in the late stages of the quarter.
T.J. Warren, in his first game against his old team, scored eight first quarter points, but was scoreless in the second until just shy of the two minute mark, when his four straight points helped push the lead back to eight, and eventually 10. The Suns would close the half with four straight, keeping the Pacers’ lead at six.
The defensive intensity stepped up in the third quarter, led by Myles Turner, who had three blocks in the quarter while making things impossible for the Phoenix offense to execute. The Pacers, meanwhile, were on a roll. Halfway through the third, they went on a 17-2 run, building a game high 25-point lead.
The Suns found life to end the third led by Elie Okobo, outscoring the Pacers 9-2, but fourth quarter Doug McDermott, tag teaming seamlessly with Sabonis, scored the first nine points of the fourth, pushing the lead back to 22, closing out the 112-87 win.
The Pacers held Phoenix to just 36.1% shooting for the game, their fourth best of the season. Though the Suns struggled to convert around the rim in the first half, that percentage tanked in the third, going 3-9 in the quarter. The Suns weren’t hitting from outside either, only hitting their first three at the tail end of the third. Meanwhile, the Pacers shot 53.6% from the floor, outscoring the Suns 58-40 in the paint and an efficient 9-20 from deep.
Sabonis bullied his way in the paint all night, scoring 24 points on 8-11 shooting. He led the Pacers in free throw attempts and rebounding, going the same 8-11 from the line, picking up three of Indiana’s four offensive boards. On the other end of the floor, Turner was masterful, especially in the third quarter. He finished the game with four blocks, coming up with multiple more stops, helping the Pacers lead 27-8 late in the quarter.
Warren had a successful return to Phoenix, scoring a game high 25 points in the win. Warren shot 11-18 from the floor, bouncing back from his lackluster performance against Utah, and also made a nice impact on the defensive end, picking up three steals and a block.
Malcolm Brogdon left the game at halftime with a bloody forehead after getting popped by Turner. Brogdon received stitches, but did not return to the game, whether for rest or for something extra. That gave T.J. McConnell minutes with the starters and he made a big impact in the third quarter, picking up 4 & 4 of his 10 point, 11 assist double double.
The bench was led by McDermott and J. Holiday, combining for 23 points and hitting seven of Indiana’s nine threes. As a bench, the reserves outscored Phoenix’s second unit 45-33, slightly skewed to garbage minutes, which included some questionable run from both A. Holiday and Edmond Sumner as the backcourt.
A. Holiday started the game well, scoring five quick points, but was a bit more hit or miss later on. He did score the lone bucket to end the third for the Pacers, but was caught up a lot in frustration with fouls and non-fouls, eventually leading him to miss a wide open layup in the fourth. Sumner meanwhile hit the final bucket of the night for the Pacers, though stepped in with a perplexing run the shot clock down possession that turned into a turnover.
The Pacers move back to 5th with tonight’s win, giving them a half game edge over Philadelphia, who lost tonight to Toronto. They’re also back above .500 on the road with tonight’s win, improving to 2-1 on their road trip. They’ll be back in action on Friday in Game 4 of this trip, traveling to San Francisco to face the league worst Golden State Warriors, who have lost 12 of their last 13.