Marion Helps Suns End Struggles on the Road
Phoenix 114, Indiana 104
INDIANAPOLIS, March 30 (Ticker) -- While the Indiana Pacers seemed to be focused only on honoring Reggie Miller, Shawn Marion and the Phoenix Suns focused on ending their road woes.
Marion scored 29 points and reigning MVP Steve Nash added 15 and 13 assists as the Suns spoiled Miller's night with a 114-104 victory over the Pacers.
However, if Indiana had any extra motivation, it did not show as Phoenix improved to 1-2 on a five-game road trip after losing by an average of 30 points in the first two contests of the trek.
"We all love and respect Reggie," Nash said. "We wish him the best, but we wanted to stay focused on the game and not let it be a distraction to us."
The Suns built a 30-20 advantage after the first period and held a 58-44 lead at halftime thanks to 52 percent (23-of-44) shooting from the field. Phoenix was solid on the defensive end as well, holing Indiana to a 35 percent (15-of-43) mark.
"They're a tough team to play," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "We shot poorly in the first half and were without some key guys, which made it tougher. (The Suns) are a finely tuned offensive machine."
After the Pacers crept within 66-57 on a Peja Stojakovic 3-pointer in the third quarter, the visitors went on an 11-4 run to push the bulge to 77-61. Raja Bell ignited the spurt with back-to-back shots from the arc before former Pacer James Jones capped the surge with a 3-pointer.
"Every time they would hit a couple of shots where it would seem like they were ready to make a run, we were able to come up with a big shot," Nash said. "I thought James came out really aggressive tonight. It seemed he was real determined to play well here."
The Suns continued to pull away in the fourth quarter to seal the win and snap a four-game road losing streak.
"(The key) was just our overall effort," Marion said. "We were able to get a lot of stops and get out into our running game. We wanted to be aggressive and try to get these last two games out of the way."
Marion made 13-of-18 shots, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out six assists. Nash added eight rebounds and Jones had 18 points for Phoenix, which tallied 34 fast-break points.
"They're a good basketball team," Stojakovic said. "They go small a lot, which causes mismatches. They have caused a lot of problems for many teams. We're still chasing them."
Stojakovic scored 25 points and rookie Danny Granger added 16 for the shorthanded Pacers (35-36), who have dropped six of their last eight games to fall into seventh place in the Eastern Conference, one game behind Milwaukee.
"An 0-2 slide is not where we want to be at this point in the season," Pacers guard Jamaal Tinsley said. "Tonight, every time we made a run, they met the challenge. They never cooled off."
All-Star Jermaine O'Neal missed the contest after aggravating a groin injury in Wednesday's loss to Atlanta. He has missed 24 games this season due to the injury.
Indiana also played most of the game without swingman Stephen Jackson, who left in the first quarter with a sprained right ankle.