Game Preview: Pacers vs Suns
Friday, January 14, 2022 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse
The Pacers (15-27) face a stiff test on Friday as the Phoenix Suns, owners of the NBA's best record at 30-9, visit Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Fresh off a run to the 2021 NBA Finals, the Suns have picked up where they left off this season. Phoenix won 18 straight games from Oct. 30 through Dec. 2 and has been jockeying with Golden State for the top seed in the Western Conference all season, currently holding a game-and-a-half edge over the Warriors.
The Suns' All-Star backcourt has been excellent once again this season. Devin Booker ranks in the top 15 in scoring at 23.4 points per game and is shooting 40.6 percent from 3-point range while taking over six threes per game. Future Hall of Famer Chris Paul is still one of the league's top point guards at 36 years old, averaging 14 points per game and leading the league by dishing out 10.1 assists per contest.
The Pacers will have their hands full against the Suns, though they have received some welcome reinforcements in the backcourt. Caris LeVert returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing five games while in the NBA's health and safety protocols. LeVert tallied 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and four assists in Wednesday's loss in Boston.
Rookie guard Chris Duarte missed the past two games for the birth of his daughter, but the father of two was back at practice on Thursday and should play Friday. Meanwhile, starting point guard Malcolm Brogdon played on Wednesday for the first time since Dec. 21, but exited in the second half with a sore right Achilles.
Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Caris LeVert, SF - Justin Holiday, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Suns: PG - Chris Paul, SG - Devin Booker, SF - Mikal Bridges, PF - Jae Crowder, C - Deandre Ayton
Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon - questionable (sore right Achilles), Torrey Craig - questionable (sore left quad), T.J. McConnell - out (sore right wrist), T.J. Warren – out (left navicular fracture)
Suns: Cameron Johnson - questionable (left ankle sprain), Ish Wainright - questionable (health and safety protocols), Frank Kaminsky - out (right knee stress reaction), Abdel Nader - out (right knee injury management), Dario Šarić - out (right ACL rehab)
March 13, 2021: Caris LeVert provided a lift in his Pacers debut as Indiana knocked off the Suns in Phoenix, 122-111.
The Pacers (17-20) exploded for 35 points in the third quarter to open up a 20-point lead, then held on down the stretch for an impressive victory over the red-hot Suns, who had won five straight and 17 of their last 20 entering the contest.
Six players scored in double figures for the Blue & Gold in the win. Domantas Sabonis registered his fifth triple-double of the season with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists (he also had four steals). Malcolm Brogdon scored a team-high 25 points, going 4-for-6 from 3-point range, to go along with five boards and four assists. Doug McDermott added 22 points off the bench on 9-of-13 shooting.
LeVert finished with 13 points in 27 minutes on 5-of-14 shooting while also tallying seven rebounds and two assists. It was an emotional night for the 6-6 guard, who missed two months of basketball after a post-trade physical revealed renal cell carcinoma in his left kidney.
"The main thing for me was to try to contribute to a win," LeVert said after the game. "That's what I'm all about. Today was maybe my second time going five-on-five since everything happened, so a little bit of heavy legs and lack of conditioning, but that will come back. I'm just glad we got the win.
"A month and a half ago, two months ago, I don't think I even knew if I was going to be out here, especially this soon. It's definitely a level of gratefulness and (I'm) just happy to be on the court."
Devin Booker had 20 points on 9-of-20 shooting, four rebounds, and seven assists in the loss. Dario Saric added 17 points and five rebounds off the bench for Phoenix.
- The Pacers split a pair of games with the eventual NBA finalist Suns last season, with the road team winning both games.
- Suns forward Mikal Bridges has appeared in all 267 games with the Suns since joining the NBA for the 2018-19 season. It is longest active consecutive games played streak in the league.
- Pacers center Myles Turner has 982 career blocks, eight shy of tying Roy Hibbert (2008-15) for fourth place in franchise history.
The Pacers welcome Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and the Phoenix Suns to Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 14 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst) Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)