The Suns lost to the Pacers, 120-95, on Sunday night to build on a disappointing weekend for the home team.
So the Suns have actually been competitive in several games recently, and though my December recaps looked a lot like elementary school report cards, I think we’re past that point. At least for the moment.
That being said, I think a more typical game recap probably makes more sense. So let’s dive into what happened against the Pacers on Bright Side Night 2018!
Responding to an early deficit
Early on, offensive rebounding became a major advantage for the Suns, especially when Tyson Chandler was able to take advantage of Domantas Sabonis. That led to several second-chance 3-point attempts that the Suns unfortunately did not finish.
Indiana, on the other hand, simply made their open shots. The Suns did not — they started the game a putrid 2-13 from distance, including a 1-5 mark from Devin Booker.
The poor start to the game for the Suns, which gave the Pacers a 23-11 lead midway through the opening quarter, led coach Jay Triano to call a timeout and reshuffle the deck at the 4:30 mark. He substituted Alec Peters, Isaiah Canaan and Alex Len into the game for Chandler, Dragan Bender and Tyler Ulis.
The result was not much better. The Suns ended the frame down 30-11.
Len brought a solid defensive presence to the game in his stint, defending (not credited with a block on either one) two shots at the rim. Yet the Pacers’ lead ballooned to 17 early in the quarter when youngster Joe Young scored back-to-back driving baskets.
No matter who controlled the keys to the offense, Indiana stayed ahead. Al Jefferson went to work in the post for most of the second quarter, scoring eight points despite seeing several defensive looks from the Suns.
The Pacers also tinkered with a press defense at times, and even got a layup off of it when Bender had no secondary outlet on an inbounds. That Darren Collison layup pushed the lead further, to 21. Another Triano timeout.
Phoenix scored just 44 points in the half, so maybe the heading for this section should be not responding to an early deficit.
More of the same
Josh Jackson opened the scoring in the second half with a 3, continuing a really impressive performance in a starting role without TJ Warren. The team was unable to capitalize on his play as the lead stayed at or above 20 for most of the third quarter.
Peters returned to the game after a couple 3-point misses by Bender, signaling desperation time for Triano. Soon after, Booker was called for a technical foul after a frustrating defensive foul call against him. He went to the bench.
Indiana racked up a 96-66 lead by the end of the third quarter. At this point, the most entertaining thing about the game was the mascot performances during breaks celebrating the Suns Gorilla’s birthday.
Chandler snatched his 10,000th career rebound midway through the fourth quarter, becoming only the 40th player in league history to do so. A little ray of sunshine in a dark game.
Additionally, rookie Davon Reed saw his first minutes of NBA action to close the game, which is a great sign going forward for the Suns. If he is healthy enough to play more over the next few games, it will be easier for Triano to deal with injuries and inconsistency at the wing positions.