After their latest win, it's getting more and more difficult to
cast the Suns' stunning success as a mirage.
Left off the All-Star team, Dragic, a dynamic point guard playing
the best ball of his career, had 28 points and seven assists to lead
the high-flying Suns to a 102-94 win over the Indiana Pacers on
Having beaten league-leading Indiana twice in eight days, Phoenix's
fairy tale is only gaining steam, perhaps finally convincing the NBA
world that the Suns are for real.
"If I'm honest, I don't care," Dragic said. "I know what we can do.
We are a family. Sooner or later people will recognize."
Guard Gerald Green, who scored 16 points in front of jeering fans
who rooted him on last season, said Phoenix wasn't looking for a
statement road victory to change the conversation.
"We're not out here looking for respect or demanding respect," Green
Still, after sweeping a four-game road trip against the Eastern
Conference and handing Indiana its second home loss, the Suns just
might get it.
"Feels good," said Dragic, whose swollen left elbow — red and
inflamed after the game — did not.
His dominance orchestrating an up-tempo attack provided Phoenix a
19-point lead early in the second quarter, and his teammates made
clutch plays to hold off the Pacers' second-half charge.
Indiana (35-10) missed 14 of 15 3-pointers and committed 15
turnovers as its 10-game home winning streak was snapped in
"They outplayed us," said center Roy Hibbert, who had 26 points and
Guard Lance Stephenson led the Pacers with 14 points, 10 assists and
10 rebounds, giving him an NBA-best four triple-doubles. Forward
David West scored 18 points and point guard George Hill added 17 as
Indiana placed all five starters in double figures.
The Pacers made a 27-11 run that began on West's layup with 10 1/2
minutes left in the third and ended when guard C.J. Watson scored on
the first possession of the fourth quarter.
The rally never drew them even, leaving Indiana with its third loss
in five games.
"Those guys battled," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "That's when
you have to have some guys with guts to make plays. That's what I'm
While the Pacers' bench floundered, Phoenix received second-unit
boosts from forwards and twin brothers Marcus (16 points) and
Markieff Morris (15). The Suns shot 42.9 percent from the field but
made 8-of-17 3s.
Markieff Morris stroked a trey that gave Phoenix a 98-92 lead with
just under 3 minutes left.
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Phoenix blew out the Pacers at the US Airways Center 124-100 last
week, scoring 62 points in each half. On Thursday, in a building
where the home team had been nearly unbeatable, the Suns had 66
points by halftime, the most Indiana has allowed in any half all
Guard Leandro Barbosa canned a buzzer-beating 3 to give Phoenix a
36-19 lead after the first quarter. The Suns took a 19-point lead on
five separate possessions in the second quarter, the last when
Marcus Morris' jumper made it 64-45 with 1:20 left. Phoenix settled
for a 66-49 halftime edge.
"Too much to overcome," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.
The Pacers sliced their deficit to 77-74 entering the final frame,
with the big difference coming when forward Paul George asked to
cross-match onto Dragic after halftime. His defense limited Dragic
to seven points and two assists in the second half.
But Phoenix found other methods of production to hold on, closing
the game on an 11-4 run after two free throws from Hill had made it
91-90 with 4:20 remaining.
"Suns basketball is team-oriented," Green said. "We're not about
stats. We're about making each other better. That's why we're
Few expected that. Rookie general manager Ryan McDonough turned over
the roster, and Phoenix was viewed as a team destined for the
lottery. In sixth-place in the Western Conference standings, the
Suns are playing like a legitimate contender, even with star guard
Eric Bledsoe sidelined since Jan. 2.
"For a team that's trying to prove themselves, to come in and beat a
great team on their court is big for us," Hornacek said.
NOTES: The NBA announced during the game that Pacers C Roy Hibbert
was selected as a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Fans voted in Pacers F Paul George as a starter, giving Indiana two
All-Stars for the sixth time. "This is more about the team and what
we've accomplished," Hibbert said in a release distributed by the
team. The Suns did not have a player selected to the Feb. 16
exhibition in New Orleans. ... Phoenix owns the three
highest-scoring halves of the season against the Pacers' defense.
... The Suns were playing their fourth game in five nights, while
Indiana returned home on Wednesday from a five-game West Coast road
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