Two highly impressive wins and player availability have set the stage for an interesting matchup between the Pacers (17-29) and the Phoenix Suns Saturday night. When the teams square off at Footprint Arena, Phoenix (35-9) will hold the best record in the NBA. They remain the only team to record fewer than 10 losses this far into the season.
However, these facts should not deter the Pacers in the slightest. After all, the squad picked up arguably its most impressive wins of the season — back-to-back road victories against LeBron James and Steph Curry just 24 hours apart. The Warriors are second in the Western Conference standings — 3.5 games back from Phoenix.
While beating James on his home court is impressive, the latter victory serves up many talking points for Saturday's game. Down four of its usual starters, Indiana's youngsters pulled out an overtime victory against the Warriors, using several clutch performances.
With Malcolm Brogdon (sore right Achilles) and Caris LeVert (sore right calf) sidelined, Chris Duarte and Keifer Sykes ran the offense swimmingly. Duarte finished with a team-high 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Sykes played solid defense against the Warriors' legendary starters and finished with 10. His final five counted as the clutch overtime run that sealed the win.
As Myles Turner (sore left foot) and Domantas Sabonis (sprained left ankle) rested their injuries, Torrey Craig (12 points, seven rebounds, three steals) and Goga Bitadze (13 points, nine boards, five assists) shined. The Blue & Gold also received help from Isaiah Jackson off the bench. The rookie finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three steals.
Anchored by Justin Holiday (16 points, four 3-pointers), the lone regularly consistent starter, the squad pulled out a victory few thought coming. Holiday also provided the clutch triple that sent the game into overtime.
Although some scratches may have been precautionary due to the back-to-back scenario, Brogdon, LeVert, and Sabonis' availability will still be in question when Saturday rolls around. Bitadze, Duarte, Sykes, and Jackson will need to step up again to tackle a team that has won five straight and eight of its last nine. Devin Booker (24.6 points, 5.3 rebounds per game) and Chris Paul (14.0 points, 10 assists per game) are another dynamic duo Duarte and Sykes have to handle. If the Warriors game proved anything, it is that they are up for the challenge.
Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Caris LeVert, SF - Justin Holiday, PF - Torrey Craig, C - Goga Bitadze
Suns: PG - Chris Paul, SG - Devin Booker, SF - Mikal Bridges, PF - Jae Crowder, C - JaVale McGee
Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon - questionable (sore right Achilles), Caris LeVert - questionable (sore right calf), T.J. McConnell - out (health and safety protocols), Domantas Sabonis - out (left ankle sprain), Myles Turner - out (left foot stress reaction), T.J. Warren – out (left navicular fracture)
Suns: Deandre Ayton - out (right ankle sprain), Frank Kaminsky - out (right knee stress reaction), Abdel Nader - out (right knee injury management is out), Dario Šarić - out (right ACL rehab)
Jan. 14, 2022: The Pacers put up a valiant effort against the league-leading Suns a week ago. However, Phoenix overpowered the Blue & Gold in the final frame. Devin Booker tallied 35 points, Deandre Ayton added 27, and the Suns dispatched Indiana, 112-94, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Phoenix led by as many as 14 in the second half. But a 27-10 Indiana run put the Pacers ahead by three with 2:17 left in the third quarter. However, the Suns responded with seven unanswered to close out the stanza.
From there, the Suns took control, outscoring the Pacers 32-18 in the final frame. Indiana was held without a field goal for the first four minutes, granting Phoenix the ability to earn a double-digit lead again. The Blue & Gold never found their footing moving forward.
Justin Holiday led Indiana with 25 points, finishing 7-of-14 from beyond the arc. He also added four assists, three blocks, and two steals. Caris LeVert tallied 20 points, five rebounds, and nine assists. But, it was not enough to overcome Booker and the Suns.
- Phoenix is one of four NBA teams that rank in the top 10 in both offensive rating (6th) and defensive rating (2nd).
- Indiana has won six of its last seven road games against Phoenix.
- With a win, Indiana will tie its longest winning streak of the season.
After a five-game Western Conference road trip, the Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Gordon Hayward and the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, Jan. 26 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 (studio host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)