Suns Final Score: Pacers beat Phoenix 97-91

USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Suns faced the Indiana Pacers on the road without their starting point guard, Goran Dragic, who was injured on Wednesday night. The Suns game a great effort in the second half, but were once again plagued by a slow start that ultimately cost them them game.

The first unit offense came out in sync and executed well to start the game with Sebastian Telfair taking over for the Injured Goran Dragic without a hitch. Indiana quickly called a timeout with the Suns up 12-7 and then came re-energized taking advantage of sloppy play by Shannon Brown causing two quick turnovers that led to easy points at the other end of the floor, to take the lead 14-12 in just over a minute.

Gentry followed suit calling a timeout of his own and the Suns tried to regain their composure but could never quite regain the lead in the first quarter as the Pacers led 27-20 at the end of one. The Suns poor offense was exacerbated by Dudley getting two quick fouls and going to the bench after only eight minutes of play.

The Suns' second unit started the second quarter with Kendall Marshall backing up Telfair at the point. Tyler Hansbrough continued to lead the attack with hustle and scoring inside while Gerald Green showed he is more than just a dunker as he hit back to back threes. The Suns went on a mini run and the Pacers went back to their starting unit to make a run of their own to eventually extend the lead 58-44 at the end of the first half.

Jared Dudley didn't score until the second quarter and had only four points at the half. Likewise, Telfair had only six points on 2-6 shooting to go along with his three assists. The Suns couldn't find the go-to guy they so desperately needed in the first half, and their defense was also sorely lacking with poor rotations that left shooters open on the perimeter, allowing them to knock down 70% of their three point attempts.

Marcin Gortat came out strong to start the second half along with Jared Dudley who made some nice passes and a steal to cut the lead to 8 halfway through the third quarter. Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown also came out more aggressive providing the Suns with additional scoring threats on the outside. The Suns and Pacers battled back and forth with the Suns showing more energy and improved defense in the third quarter, and Phoenix was eventually able to cut the lead down to four at the end of the third quarter 75-71. The Suns held the Pacers to just 6 of 21 shooting in the 3rd quarter, thanks to much improved defense and hustle than they showed in the first half.

The Suns started the fourth quarter with a hybrid starter/bench unit of Sebastian Telfair, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, and Jermaine O'Neal. Morris and Tucker came in for Scola and Dudley after about five minutes, but head coach Alvin Gentry likely didn't trust going back to a full on second unit headed by Kendall Marshall after fighting back to get the game within reach, so he chose to rest only a couple players at a time.

The Suns got within just two points of the Pacers on two consecutive possessions but Beasley missed on both trips. Finally, Telfair was able to poke the ball free and tie up the game on a fast break for the first time since the first quarter at 81-81 with just over six minutes to go in the game. Jermaine O'Neal was then sent to the line and gave the Suns their first lead since the first quarter, but the Pacers answered back with a couple of free throws on the next possession to tie the game once again.

The Suns gave it their best effort in the fourth, but ultimately it just wasn't enough. Once again, the Suns fell behind early and battled back in the second half to retake the lead, but ultimately fell short as the Pacers hung on to win in the end 97-91.

The Pacers got to the line early and often and were able to convert 17-23 from the charity stripe and also shot 50% from beyond the arc. The Pacers' best player tonight was George Hill who scored 22 points on 9-13 shooting from the field. Sebastian Telfair played a solid game for the Suns scoring 19 points on 8-20 shooting and dishing out 6 assists in over 40 minutes of play. Marcin Gortat also did his part with a double-double of 15 points,10 rebounds while holding Hibbert to only 8 points, though Hibbert did win the battle of the boards getting 14 rebounds in all.

Next game is tomorrow night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. Hang in there Suns fans.

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