The Phoenix Suns continued their longest roadie of the year, stopping off in Indianapolis to play a high-paced Pacers team. In game in which defense appeared to be optional, their seven-game win streak was snapped. Devin Booker popped off for 62 points, but alas, it was enough to stop the Pacers and their relentless affinity for attacking the interior, winning 133-131.
Indiana scored 84 points in the paint and shot 53.2% from the field. Phoenix was hot as well, making 56.7% of their shots. The Pacers controlled the glass, however, snagging 21 offensive rebounds. Add to the fact that Phoenix had 19 turnovers, and the Suns were asking for this result.
Booker was sensational once again, following up this 46-point performance against the Mavericks with a 62-piece. He had 29 points in the fourth and, after going 22-37 from the field, it appeared that a masterpiece was in hand.
But the Suns simply could not stop the Pacers. Six players scored in double figures, led by 31 from Pascal Siakam and 23 from Obi Toppin off of the bench, including what turned out the be the game-winner.
The loss puts the Suns at 26-19 on the year and drops them into the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
Devin Booker picked up where he left off on Wednesday night, as he scored 15 of the Suns’ first 20 points. In transition, in the lane, from beyond the arc; Booker is doing a good job making a case for him to be an All-Star, which happens to be on the floor in which he was scoring his points tonight, in Indianapolis on February 17.
Book with 15 straight point for the Suns pic.twitter.com/DinDfFrbxj— The Bright Side (@BrightSideSun) January 27, 2024
Phoenix had eight consecutive field goals made midway through the first quarter, which gave them an early nine-point lead. To Indy’s credit, they hung in with their three-point shooting and calculated approach. Pascal Siakam, who dropped a triple-double on the 76ers last night, had 7 points on 3-of-4 shooting, helping stabilize the Pacer offense and keeping them close.
Book continued to cook, logging another 20+ point quarter, and doing so in an efficient manner. Devin ended the first with 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting.
Thats right. 29! Log another franchise record for Booker as that is the most points scored by one player in a quarter in Phoenix Suns history.
Suns scored 40 in the first, but the Pacers shot 60.9% in the quarter, so after one, Suns up 40-31.
It was a Big Three start as 44 of the Suns’ first 49 points were scored by either Booker, Beal, or Durant. The only other Suns to score? Drew Eubanks and Eric Gordon had field goals.
Drew Eubanks was hustling on the boards early, grabbing four as he attempted to stop a physical and active Pacers front line. He’s had a nice stretch of games as of late after going missing for a stretch earlier this season.
The Pacers play with pace — no pun intended — and if you let them get out and run, they will abide. Just ask former Slam Dunk Contest participant Obi Tobbin. It’s not every day you see the between-the-legs transition slam.
Awesome dunk. Suns up 11.
It felt like the Suns should be blowing the Pacers out, but Indiana was doing a quality job on the boards. They were creating extra shots, which allowed them extra opportunities to stay in the game. Indy snagged 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, leading to 13 second-chance points. Obi Toppin was the benefactor as he scored 16 points in the second quarter coming off of the bench.
Eric Gordon has been out the last two games with a sore wrist, but seeing as he is from Indiana, you kind of felt that this is a game he wouldn’t miss. He had 12 points in the first half and the bench production the Suns have been desperately in need of was personified by his performance.
Booker scored just 9 in the quarter, bringing his total to 37 points at the half. Beal added 12, KD had 8, and the Suns had back-to-back 40-point quarters to open the game.
At the half, Suns up 80-70.
Most grown men like to come home to a cooked meal from mama. Not me. I like seeing 37 points in the first half from Book.— Suns JAM Session Podcast (@SunsJAM) January 27, 2024
Toppin played so well in the first half that Rick Carlisle chose to play him with the starters to the second third quarter.
As for Book? It didn’t take long for him to score his 40th point. It is the fifth consecutive game in which a member of the Suns has surpassed the 40-point mark and it is the third time that it was Booker.
Another game. Another game with a 40 point scorer. pic.twitter.com/Q2E0t3LzhD— John Voita (@DarthVoita) January 27, 2024
The Pacers are the highest-scoring team in the NBA, and no matter how hard Phoenix kept trying to score points, they kept responding. Indy pulled to within 4 points with 9 minutes left in the third.
Looks like we had a rock fight on our hands.
Bradley Beal caught an elbow from Myles Turner in the face and began bleeding rather profusely as a result. The officials did not initially review it for a flagrant foul, but after the amount of blood they saw on the court, they changed their minds. It was called a common foul. Way to go, officials.
Bradley Beal gets elbowed in the face by Myles Turner pic.twitter.com/KOCsfiTQF3— Cage (@ridiculouscage) January 27, 2024
Beal had to be taken back to the locker room as a result, leaving with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting with 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Giving up offensive rebounds and turning the ball over isn’t a good recipe, and the Suns did plenty of both. They committed 6 turnovers in the quarter, and many of them were self-inflicted. This allowed the Pacers to chip away at the lead, getting it down to three points on numerous possessions.
Booker hit 50 on quite an impressive drive to the basket, putting the Suns up 5.
Phoenix ended on a 6-0 run, putting them up 114-105 entering the fourth.
With 10:32 left in the game, Brad Beal returned to the game. He had plenty of gauze stuffed up his nose, but he was a trooper to return.
A tradition continues pic.twitter.com/Atn1rdczVq— Suns JAM Session Podcast (@SunsJAM) January 27, 2024
With five minutes and up left Frank Vogel deployed their small ball five lineup and with it came something we hadn’t seen much of tonight: defense.
A KD block. A forced turnover. A fastbreak dunk put Booker at 56. That gives him another arena record as he now owns the record for the Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Adding another arena scoring record to his resume pic.twitter.com/82dY5HuE1m— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 27, 2024
Shortly thereafter, Booker scored his 60th point in transition, but it gave the Suns just a seven-point lead.
With 1:56, Indy cut it to a 2-point lead, 129-127. The following play Grayson Allen was called for an offensive foul, which Frank Vogel challenged. And lost. And he shouldn’t have. But whatever.
The Pacers tied it on an Andrew Nembhard jumper. Booker responded, but Nembhard attacked Allen again and tied it once again. A missed KD three set up the Pacers for an opportunity to take a late lead. After giving up two offensive rebounds, Obi Toppin tipped the ball in to take a 133-131 lead.
That would prove to be the deciding factor as Booker missed a game-winner.
0 fouls by the Pacers in the fourth quarter. Mmmkay— John Voita (@DarthVoita) January 27, 2024
Game three of the road trip takes the Suns to the place where it all turned around for the franchise: Orlando. There will be no bubble, but there will be a struggling Magic team that is young, hungry, and wanting to avenge a January 2 loss to Phoenix.
See you then, Bright Siders!