Notebook: Pacers 112, Suns 104

Posted Mar 31, 2013 1:54 AM

By Mike Tulumello, for

THE FACTS: The Indiana Pacers edged into the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference Saturday night by knocking off the Phoenix Suns 112-104.

The visiting Pacers (47-27) didn't put the Suns (23-51) away until the closing minutes. The Pacers led just 102-101 with 3:10 left after a three-point play by the Suns' Jermaine O'Neal. But in their next six possessions, the Suns missed five shots and had one turnover. Only then could the Pacers coast.

The Pacers are now a half-game ahead of idle New York for the No. 2 seed in the East. They're also 3-0 on their current road trip. The loss was the Suns' sixth straight, and they have the NBA's fourth-worst record.

Paul George scored 25 to lead the Pacers. Roy Hibbert added 20 points and seven boards.

The Suns gave themselves a better chance than in their last two games when they allowed Goran Dragic to play. They had Dragic rest the previous two games, both lopsided Suns' losses. Dragic hit a 3-pointer to draw the Suns within 88-85 with 9:57 left, then -- after the Pacers had seemed to put it away with a 7-0 run to make it 95-85 -- Dragic led another comeback. His 3-pointer made it 97-94 Pacers with 5:07 left. Moments later, a whirling drive by Dragic pulled the Suns within 99-98. But they could get no closer.

Dragic led the Suns with 21 points and nine assists. Markief Morris added 18 points.

QUOTABLE: "We've got the DNA, the whole make-up to make a great run. We're big inside. We [have] got guys who can create and make shots. Our defense is amazing."

-- Paul George on the Pacers' playoff prospects

QUOTABLE II: "There are no moral victories, but when you are traveling down the road we are traveling you have to get small victories out of tough times. I think tonight we got a lot of small victories. That is a champhionship-caliber team over there. We fought them toe to toe right up until the end."

--Suns coach Lindsey Hunter

THE STAT: The Pacers used their size advantage to draw fouls and shoot 46 free throws to just 19 for the Suns.

TURNING POINT: When the Pacers put the clamps down in the final 3:00.

QUOTABLE III: "We finished the game strong. We're a team that's filled with leaders."

-- Roy Hibbert

HOT: The Suns shot 18-for-19 from the line to help them stay in the game.

NOT: The Pacers shot just 4-for-15 on 3-pointers to help keep the game close.

QUOTABLE IV: "It wasn't perfect. ...not our best defensive performance. But at crunch time, we got enough stops to get the 'W'."

--Pacers coach Frank Vogel (the Suns shot 49 percent against them)

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: With Danny Granger out for the season, George is -- more than ever -- the Pacers' main man. For the season, he is the only NBA player averaging at least 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.75 steals. He is a leading candidate for most improved player. "Paul George is a phenomenal talent, a budding superstar," Hunter said.

NOTABLE: This could have been the first NBA game ever where two sets of brothers played against each other: Markieff and Marcus Morris for the Suns and Tyler and Ben Hansbrough for the Pacers. But Ben didn't get in the game. ...The Suns are 2-11 without injured starting center Marcin Gortat.

UP NEXT: For the Pacers, Monday @ LA Clippers, Friday vs. Thunder, Saturday @ Washington. For the Suns, Wednesday @ LA Clippers, Friday vs. Warriors, Sunday vs. Hornets.