PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns put an exclamation mark on the first half of the season with a decisive victory over the NBA’s top team, beating the Indiana Pacers, 124-100 before a crowd of 16,465 at US Airways Center Wednesday.
Ex-Pacer Gerald Green scored 18 of his team-high 23 points in the first half when the Suns dropped 62 on Indiana, the most they’ve allowed in a first half all season.
Six players scored in double figures, including all five starters.
Markieff Morris made two three-pointers and had eight points in a 13-0 run that put the Suns up 26 midway through the fourth quarter, sealing arguably the team’s biggest win of the year. Morris finished with 20 points.
The Suns had very little trouble scoring against the league’s top-ranked defense. The 124 points was both a Suns season-high and the most the Pacers had allowed in a game this season.
Ish Smith scored back-to-back field goals in the final minute of the third quarter to push the lead to 17. He finished with eight points (4-of-6 FG) and two assists after entering the game when Leandro Barbosa picked up his third foul.
The Suns opened the second quarter on a 14-2 run on their way to 62 first half points, the most allowed by Indiana this season. The Suns outscored the Pacers, 32-20 in the second quarter.
The Suns scored 30 first-quarter points against an Indiana team that was allowing a league-low 22 points in the first twelve minutes.
Against the league’s best team defending the three, the Suns shot a season-best 68.8 percent (11-of-16, including 7-of-10 in the first half) from beyond the arc.
As well as the Suns played in the first half, they missed five of their last six shot attempts to end the first quarter and went through a 2:35 dry spell in the second quarter with four missed field goals plus a turnover. (Okay, we’re nitpicking.)
The Suns do need to work on their free throw shooting, however. They missed seven of 18 first half attempts. Goran Dragic was the biggest culprit, going 1-of-5 from the foul line.
The Suns committed eight fouls in the third quarter (after just 10 in the entire first half), which led to the Pacers attempting 13 foul shots. They made 10 of them.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Suns became the first team to score 30 or more points in at least three quarters of the same game against Indiana this season; and just barely missed the mark with 28 points in the fourth quarter.
HE SAID IT
“We should play like that every game. Not like Coach said — because the game is on TNT [ESPN] or because we are playing against the best team in the league. We should play against everybody, even if they are last in the standings. We did a great job tonight,” said Dragic, who had 21 points in only 22 minutes and sat out the fourth quarter for the second consecutive game.
Now officially at the halfway point of the season, the Suns, at 24-17, are off to their best start since going 24-17 in 2009-10, a season that saw the team finish 54-28 and advance to the Western Conference Finals. By comparison, the Suns were 13-28 after 41 games last season (which got then-head coach Alvin Gentry fired the next day). It would take that club 38 more games (under the direction of interim head coach Lindsay Hunter) before reaching the 24-win mark, April 10 at Dallas. And yes, that club won 25 games all year.
Ex-Suns reunion week continues with the return of Marcin Gortat. The former Suns starting center spent the past three-and-a-half seasons with Phoenix before he was traded to Washington along with Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall for Emeka Okafor and a top-12 protected 2014 first-round pick just days before the start of the season. Gortat and the Wizards — who swept the Suns 2-0 in the series last season, visit Friday in what will be the fifth and final game of a season-long, five-game Suns homestand. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.