In a slogfest most notable to physicality, the Phoenix Suns had a chance to win their 7th game of the season on Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers.
The Suns entered the 4th quarter down only 82-80, but tied it only seconds into the final frame on Leandro Barbosa’s leaner.
Then Paul George came back into the game and defended Devin Booker quite well, but the Suns refused to go anywhere else offensively. This is a game it really hurts not having T.J. Warren take George’s attention.
The Pacers went on a 9-0 run to take a commanding 10-point lead with six minutes left, at 97-87, helped by their 39 free throws on 30 Suns fouls.
The Suns put out a quick 5-0 run, but then missed shot after shot to bring the game any closer. And on the other end, they just couldn’t get a board. The Pacers just out-hustled them.
The Suns committed two more turnovers in the final minute to go out with a whimper, while Paul George made a 30-foot banker to give the Pacers a 15-point win.
The Suns are now 0-13 when behind on the scoreboard entering the 4th quarter.
Both teams came out very loose with their handles. Halfway through the first quarter, they’d combined for more TOs (12) than shots made (9) for a 12-12 tie. On one hand, you can credit each team’s defense for hustle. On the other, you can shake your head at the poor offense.
The first team to stop committing turnovers was the Suns, who scored 5 straight to take the lead. Devin Booker had 7 of the Suns first 15 points (3/5 shooting). Booker also had 2 first quarter assists.
But the Suns couldn’t enjoy the lead. Brandon Knight walked himself into two long, wide two-point attempts while the Pacers scored enough to take the lead right back.
The Suns and Pacers slogged to a 23-22 score by the end of one (Pacers leading).
In the second quarter, it was more of the same slogging with both teams working, but not efficiently. Leandro Barbosa was the Suns best benchie, while Al Jefferson did Al Jefferson stuff (good and bad).
It wasn’t until 3:50 left in the second quarter before the second three pointer of the game was made. By either team. The Suns were 2/10 while the Pacers were 0/7.
At this point, the teams also had combined for 22 turnovers.
Did I mention it wasn’t a well played game?
The Suns stayed in the game by taking and making a few more shots, while the Pacers took and made more free throws.
The Suns had a 53-49 halftime lead. Booker led the team with 12 points and 4 assists, while Marquese Chriss, Tyson Chandler and Leandro Barbosa all had 8 points. Chandler also had 8 rebounds already.
Paul George and Myles Turner led the Pacers with 12 points each.
The half started well with P.J. Tucker making a corner three, but then the Suns struggled and racked up fouls. Booker and Bledsoe both had 4 fouls with 8 minutes left in the half, rendering their aggressiveness on defense even more useless than usual.
The Pacers quickly tied it at 59-59 on a Myles Turner three pointer, his third of the game in four tries. Turner came into the league with a rep as a good long-range shooter but has only taken 1 per game in his career. Ah well. No time like the present to break out, right?
The Pacers made their first three three-pointers of the second half to keep pace with the Suns, and then pulled ahead when the Suns couldn’t stop committing fouls and putting the Pacers on the line. The Suns had committed 22 fouls by late third, with still 16+ minutes left in the game.
Luckily, the Pacers aren’t all that great. And the Suns were able to stay close despite the foul problems.
A Dudley three, keyed by a nice Brandon Knight setup, pulled the Suns back to 82-80 at the end of three.
The Suns enter the fourth quarter without having won a game all year when behind after three.
Leandro Barbosa tied up the game right away, but then the Pacers went on a 2-0 run to take the lead back.
The teams combined for 8 points in the first 3.5 minutes of the fourth. The first team to string together some baskets might just take a commanding lead here.