It wasn’t easy. It didn’t always look pretty.
But after finally pulling away in the 4th quarter, the Suns successfully bounced back and defeated the Pacers on the road.
One night ago, the Suns committed 20 turnovers as a team, looking helpless against the Pistons’ zone defense as three-point shot after three-point shot refused to fall.
Tonight? 33 assists. 2 turnovers. That ties them with four other teams for the fewest turnovers EVER in any NBA game.
And in addition to that, a career-high 34 points for Mikal Bridges.
Just a special night in so many ways for your Suns.
UPDATE: Watch all of Mikal’s career-high 34 points below.
The Suns indeed started out with Ayton on Sabonis and Crowder on Turner, as I suggested they should in the preview. This prevented Sabonis from getting off to a strong start, though Malcolm Brogdon did his best to attack Devin Booker frequently.
For the Suns, it was the MIKAL BRIDGES show! Bridges opened up with 15 of the team’s first 22 points, on a variety of perimeter shots and drives to the rim.
With about five minutes left in the first quarter, the Suns faced their first challenge without Cam Payne. Monty responded with a stagger of Booker and Paul; Booker played the first few minutes at PG, then CP3 closed out the quarter. The results were pretty good, particularly as Dario Saric outplayed Myles Turner on both ends.
Score at the end of 1Q: Suns 30 - Pacers 32
Second quarter opens up, and CP3 in particular looks locked in. He’s not dominating every possession by any means, but has a quick 6 points (on 3-3 shooting) and 4 assists (with 0 turnovers).
Cam Johnson, by the way, continues to develop at RAPID SPEED:
Cam Johnson just DID THAT pic.twitter.com/utPu1kgN2a— Mike Vigil (@protectedpick) January 10, 2021
After a stagnant stretch, the Suns’ offense came alive in the final few minutes of the half. First Chris Paul got to one of his favorite spots in the mid-range, then Booker worked himself to the FT line on the next possession. But a last-second Brogdon three keeps the Pacers very much live.
End of 2Q: Suns 56 - Pacers 50
A fun stat at the half: Phoenix has 15 assists to ZERO turnovers as a team. Let’s see to what extent that can hold, because it’s insane.
The half opens up, and there’s another bucket from...you guessed it...MIKAL BRIDGES. He’s up to 20 on 8-11 shooting.
I think now is a good time to acknowledge that the refs have not been whistle-happy at all in this one, and that has definitely aided the Suns. Sabonis just threw his hands up in frustration, pleading with a ref. He could have 10+ FT attempts were this officiated differently, but instead he only has 4 and has been mostly a non-factor.
I spoke way too soon. Several minutes later and Sabonis is a huge factor. He has 19 points and 18 rebounds and the quarter isn’t even over. I’m so sorry for jinxing us.
The Suns have held onto their lead, but just barely. Indiana has adopted the Detroit method, imposing a zone on the Suns to test the speed of their rotations and decision making.
This continues to be a back-and-forth game for the remainder of the quarter. Third quarters are typically when things can fall apart for teams on back-to-backs, so this resilience is impressive from the Suns.
End of 3Q: Suns 90 - Pacers 87
Sidenote: the Suns now have 24 assists to 0 turnovers. Absurd.
Jevon Carter has now hit a couple of threes, and it’s nice to see him get over the 10-point mark for the first time this season.
Not wanting to risk anything, Monty opts to bring Bridges, Booker, and Paul back in with nine minutes remaining. But he keeps Saric at C, likely a strategic move for breaking down the zone. Still up by two, but in a vulnerable position.
Ayton checks back in with about 8:00 remaining, and now the team goes on a mini run thanks to a couple of transition buckets. Phoenix, on a SEGABABA, is up by 8 as we head towards the final stretch.
A timeout for Indiana doesn’t help whatsoever, as Mikal Bridges is now having what looks like a career night. Another three and a trip to the FT line brings Bridges to a CAREER HIGH 29 points.
In the meantime, Phoenix STILL has just 2 turnovers, with 2 minutes remaining. I looked it up, and that’s tied for the fewest turnovers by any team in NBA history. Pretty cool, and it’s flown under the radar thanks to...
...another 3 from Bridges! That gives him 32, his first 30+ game ever.
Looks like the Suns will hold onto this one. An absolutely terrific display of team basketball.
FINAL: Suns 125 - Pacers 117