For one night, they outpaced the Eastern Conference pacesetters.
Stephon Marbury had 19 points and nine assists and all five
Phoenix starters reached double figures Friday night in a 102-96
The Suns topped 100 points for the second time this season and
outscored the Pacers 10-3 over the final 3:05 in a tight,
Penny Hardaway added 18 points, five in the final 2:19, and
grabbed eight rebounds to help offset his seven turnovers. The Suns
dominated the boards 44-29.
"That is a fun game to play,'' Hardaway said. "We're trying to
get to that style, and we're going to eventually get there. Our
defense is pretty good. We've just got to keep making shots.''
"I didn't think we really played Pacer basketball,'' O'Neal
said. "That's what we do. We play tough defense. We rebound. We
make it hard for other teams to score. We didn't get any of that
Indiana entered the game second in the NBA in opponent's field
goal percentage at .409. The Suns, the fourth-worst shooting team
in the NBA going into the game at .405, shot 51 percent.
"That is the second game in a row where a team shot above 50
percent against us,'' Indiana coach Isiah Thomas said. "We haven't
had much practice time, and there's been a real slippage in our
Shawn Marion had 16 points and rookie Amare Stoudemire 14 for
the Suns. Jake Tsakalidis, activated from the injured list earlier
in the day, started and scored a season-high 13, seven in the first
four minutes of the fourth quarter.
Marion's 3-pointer gave Phoenix the lead for good, 95-93 with
3:04 to play. Hardaway's layup on a pass from Stoudemire made it
97-93 with 2:19 to play.
O'Neal was called for an offensive foul against Bo Outlaw, and a
technical foul, on Indiana's next possession, and Hardaway's free
throw put Phoenix up 98-93 with 2:09 to go.
"That was a big win for us,'' Suns coach Frank Johnson said.
"Just the balanced scoring from our starters was huge, and Bo's
energy was outstanding again.''
O'Neal's three-point play cut the lead to 98-96 with 1:33 left,
but Stoudemire's tip-in with 1:17 to play gave Phoenix a 100-96
"That was a must-get rebound, you know what I mean,''
Reggie Miller, 4-for-4 from the field up to that point, missed
two 3-pointers and O'Neal misfired twice, once from 3-point range,
The Suns, shot 59 percent (26-for-44) and Indiana 57 percent
(20-for-35) in the first half. Phoenix led 58-56 at the break.
The 20-year-old Stoudemire, matched against O'Neal most of the
game, scored six _ four on monster stuffs _ in a 15-2 run that put
the Suns up 52-48 with 3:18 left in the half.
"Amare, all you have to do is throw it in the vicinity of the
rim and he's going to dunk it, no matter how you throw it,''
Phoenix led by as many as six before Indiana scored the final
four points of the half.
There were seven lead changes in the third quarter, with the
Pacers leading 74-73 entering the fourth.
Tsakalidis scored five as Phoenix scored the first eight points
of the fourth quarter to take its biggest lead, 81-74, but Indiana
followed with a 9-2 spurt to tie it at 83. The lead changed hands
six times after that.
To make room for Tsakalidis, the Suns placed Tom Gugliotta
on the injured list with a bruised foot. ... Phoenix is 9-3 at
home. The Suns play their next five on the road, where they are
1-5. ... O'Neal scored 10 in the first quarter. ... Indiana is 2-2
on its Western road trip with a stop in Denver on Saturday. ...
Phoenix had 20 turnovers, but only two in the fourth quarter.
Indiana had 18.
With the Bulls parting with Derrick Rose and the possible departures of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, Denzel Valentine could land in Chicago's rotation.
No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons said hearing the news of the death of his cousin "is a reminder to never forget the important things in life."
DeMar DeRozan, arguably the top shooting guard who could hit the free-agent market, is focused on re-signing with the Raptors, a source said.