Suns Strokes: Dragic, Bledsoe combine for 61 points, pound Pacers by double-digits
PHOENIX — Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe wish they could play the Indiana Pacers more often this season. Dragic and Bledsoe put on a shooting clinic, both scoring season highs and combining for 61 points, leading the Suns to a season sweep of the Pacers, 116 to 99.
Dragic has been the Suns’ shooting star since the injury to Isaiah Thomas, combining for 56 points in the last two games. He made 11-of-15 shots in the game, turning in his best performance of the season with 34 points. Dragic hit five of his six three-point attempts, the biggest two coming midway through the fourth quarter and putting the game out of reach.
“The rim looks bigger and bigger every time I took a shot,” said Dragic after the game. “It was one of those nights where you’re going to make a lot of shots. It was a good game for us.”
After having trouble holding leads this season, Dragic and Eric Bledsoe made sure that wouldn’t happen against the Pacers. After missing six of his first nine shots, Bledsoe came out with vengeance in the final 24 minutes of the game, scoring 21 of his season-high 27 points in the second half.
“Both me and him were hot,” said Dragic. “The defense can’t stay focused on one guy. We got a lot of good looks, especially with lay-ups and 3’s.”
Bledsoe and the Suns felt like they played with a renewed sense of passion and energy after dropping three of their previous four games.
“When the season started we didn’t play with a sense of urgency, we just let teams come in here and let them go through their plays early and not putting up a fight,” said Bledsoe.
The Suns simply ran right past the Pacers defense, scoring a season high 38 fast-break points. They outscored the Pacers by 23 fast-break points. They also put together a 17-to-3 run from the end of the first half and into the third period to erase Indiana’s nine-point lead.
“When you have confidence shooting the ball like this, every time you shoot, you shoot the same,” said Dragic, who also made all seven of his free throws. “Hopefully I have a lot of games like this, but as players we know that’s only two or three times a season.”
Dragic continued his hot shooting right out of the gate with 14 points in the first 18 minutes of action. He finished the first half with 22 points and is averaging more than 20 points in the last four home games against the Pacers.
After missing six of his first nine shots of the game, Bledsoe started to heat up in the first five minutes of the second half with nine points.
The Suns built their second 10-point lead of the game in the third quarter 77-67, but this time they did not lose the lead.
After the Suns built a 10-point lead in the first period, the Pacers went on a 13-to-2 run to retake the lead at 21-20. The Pacers ended the period on a 20-to-7 run.
The Suns defense was ineffective in the first half, as the Pacers were able to connect on nearly 60 percent of their first half shots, 26-of-44.
With 30 seconds left in the third period, Gerald Green was called for a flagrant foul on a Suns inbounds play. Green was coming off a screen and his hand swung and hit CJ Miles. The refs reviewed the play and gave the Pacers two free throws and the ball out of bounds. The Pacers scored the final six points of the third to cut the Suns lead to 83-79.
STAT OF THE GAME:
16 – When Bledsoe and Dragic each score at least 16 points, the Suns are 19-1.
HE SAID IT:
“We’re still trying to learn, still trying to be that team that when we have a chance to step on your throat, to step harder. Still trying to work on that.”
— Gerald Green talking about holding leads in the fourth quarter.
Gerald Green enjoys playing his former team, scoring 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Four of the five shots he made were from beyond the arc. Green is averaging more than 18 points per game in four meetings against his former teams this season (Indiana twice, Brooklyn and Boston).
The Suns will get a couple days of rest before traveling to Dallas to take on the Mavericks on Friday. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Mavs will be in Milwaukee on Wednesday to take on the Bucks. The Mavs are 13-5 on the season.
Tip off is at 6:30 p.m. The pregame show will begin 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.