Green, Suns race past NBA-leading Pacers
PHOENIX — The team with the NBA’s best record had its worst game of the season Wednesday night.
The Phoenix Suns simply ran the Indiana Pacers and their vaunted defense off the court, 124-100.
It was the most points allowed by the Pacers this season and matched their most one-sided loss.
The Suns snapped Indiana’s five-game winning streak but was no cause for alarm, the Pacers’ George Hill said.
"We spoil you guys with great defense," he said, "so when you do have a bad game you think the world is going to end."
The surprising Suns won their 24th game, one fewer than they did all of last season.
"Heck of an offensive performance by the Phoenix Suns," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "Their shot-making was off the charts."
Gerald Green led the Suns with 23 points against his former team, not that it meant anything that special. Green’s had a lot of former teams.
"This is my seventh team, man," he said. "I’ve been down this road before."
Indiana has the league’s best record (33-8) and is the NBA leader in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. But the Pacers were on their heels from the start.
"We knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy and play with a lot of energy," Indiana’s Paul George said. "We just did a terrible job of responding to it. They just caught fire and once one of them fell, they all had that confidence to keep shooting."
Goran Dragic scored 21, Markieff Morris 20, P.J. Tucker 13, Miles Plumlee 11 and Channing Frye 10 for the Suns.
George scored 26, Hill 16 and David West 13 for Indiana.
Phoenix scored 62 points in each half, the most allowed by the Pacers in any half this season.
"We should play like that every game," Dragic said. "We should play like that against everybody, even if they are last in the standings."
Phoenix led by 13 at the half, as many as 24 in the third quarter and 26 in the fourth.
Green and Plumlee came to the Suns along with a first-round draft pick in a trade that sent Luis Scola to Indiana in the offseason. Scola scored five on Wednesday night.
The Suns shot 54 percent, including 11 of 16 from 3-point range. The Pacers committed 21 turnovers, resulting in 27 Phoenix points. The Suns had 10 turnovers for 10 Indiana points.
The Suns led 62-49 at the break.
The onslaught started when Phoenix opened the second quarter with a 14-2 run that put the Suns ahead 44-31. Frye and Green each sank a 3 in the surge.
The Pacers, having trouble with some the Suns’ best offensive pressure of the season, never got closer than nine the rest of the half.
Tucker’s 3-pointer from the corner put Phoenix ahead 59-45, then Dragic made one of two free throws and it was 60-45. George sank a jumper, then with 9.8 seconds left, Dragic made an 18-footer and the Suns were up 62-47. George’s step-back 21 footer at the buzzer cut it to 62-49. Green scored 18 in the first half, George 14.
The Suns turned it up a notch to start the second half, opening with a 10-2 run to lead 72-51 on Tucker’s basket. When Dragic sank a 3 moments later, Phoenix led 79-55 with 7:12 left in the third quarter. The Suns led 96-79 entering the fourth.
"I thought our guys really focused at the start of the third quarter to really build that lead, rather than let them come right back in the game," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said.
The Pacers scored the first four points of the final quarter to make it 96-83, but Ish Smith scored on a drive, Morris sank consecutive 3s and Phoenix led 105-83 in one of the most raucous environments at US Airways Center this season.
With 6:06 to go, Vogel raised the white flag, emptying his bench with his team trailing 109-83.