PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns came into Saturday night’s contest losers of five in a row, and while they were hosting one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, Lindsey Hunter’s squad had no problem rising to the occasion against the Indiana Pacers.
Unfortunately the difference between rising to the occasion and winning games is still quite significant for the Suns these days.
The Pacers built an 11-point advantage in the third quarter, and while the Suns cut the deficit down to one on multiple occasions, Frank Vogel and Co. did just enough to leave US Airways Center with a 112-104 victory.
Whether necessary or otherwise, the two-game rest didn’t seem to hurt point guard Goran Dragic’s game.
Dragic had a team-high 21 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and almost single-handedly led Phoenix to a comeback victory.
Markieff Morris was issued a challenge last week to either rebound or sit. Saturday night, he did more than grab a few boards. The second-year forward had six rebounds, but he was easily the team’s most active post player (14 points on 6-of-10 shooting).
Suns forward Michael Beasley seems to be rocking a new hairstyle these days but with it has also come a noticeable swagger at the offensive end. Two nights after he scored 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting, the first-year Sun was at it again. Beasley had another double-digit scoring effort (10 points on 5-of-11 shooting), dished out a few assists and at the very least contested shots from David West and Tyler Hansbrough.
The Pacers came in as the second-best rebounding team in the NBA and it showed in their eight-point win over the Suns.
Phoenix was manhandled on the glass most of the night (outrebounded 45-35), and when the game got tight, the Pacers always managed to grab a key board or make a key stop.
The disparity at the charity stripe was also a troubling trend Saturday night. Indiana went 34-of-46 at the foul line, while the Suns only had 19 attempts on the night.
He Said It:
“Like I’ve said before, there are no more victories. But when you’re traveling down the road that we’re traveling, you have to get small victories out of tough times. Tonight, we got a lot of small victories. That’s a championship-caliber team over the team, and I thought we battled them toe-to-toe.” — Suns interim head coach Lindsey Hunter
• Jermaine O’Neal picked up his 13th technical foul in the first quarter of Saturday’s loss. That ties him with DeMarcus Cousins, Larry Sanders and Kevin Durant for second-most in the NBA. Esteemed company sure, but O’Neal averages far fewer minutes than the trio.
• The Pacers and Suns made NBA history Saturday night becoming the first two teams to play in a game that featured a pair of siblings (Ben and Tyler Hansbrough for Indiana and Marcus and Markieff Morris for Phoenix) on each active roster.
• P.J. Tucker will never been confused for an upper-echelon offensive forward around the league, but as the year has progressed he’s certainly looked more and more comfortable scoring the basketball. Against the Pacers, Tucker had 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He has scored in double-figures in five of his last six games.
• The Pacers won the season series between the two teams for the first time since 2003-04.
The Suns (23-51) head to the Staples Center Wednesday to take on the Los Angeles Clippers at 7:30 p.m.