After taking a 19-point lead into the half, the Pacers made a statement to open the third quarter, embarking on a 16-2 run to put the game away early on Wednesday night, easily dispatching the Phoenix Suns 116-101 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Victor Oladipo, who was named to his first-ever NBA All-Star Game just 24 hours earlier, put on a dazzling display of offense, tying his season-high with nine assists as he helped pilot Indiana's sizzling offense.
"I drew a lot of attention, and guys were open," said Oladipo of his passing. "When my teammates are playing well, shooting the ball well, it makes it that much easier for me and everybody else out there"
After a third quarter in which the Pacers (26-22) outscored the Suns 36-21, Indiana was shooting 65 percent from the field and had drained 8-of-18 looks from deep. Conversely, the Suns (17-31) were unable to find a rhythm, shooting just 39 percent at that point in the game.
With Oladipo's 21 points and Thaddeus Young's game-high 22, the Pacers' starters got to rest for the majority of the fourth quarter with the exception of the final few minutes.
The Pacers were shorthanded to begin the game with Myles Turner (sore right elbow) and Darren Collison (personal reasons) both missing from the lineup. In lieu of Collison, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan elected to roll with third-year guard Joe Young, with the Oregon-product notching his first career start.
Even with the new lineup, Indiana started the game in front, taking an early 12-6 lead when Thaddeus Young stripped a pass and took it the length of the court for a powerful slam. Once the visitors narrowed the game to a 16-14 Pacers advantage, Indiana's offense caught fire, closing the half on a 16-4 run to end the first quarter with a 32-18 edge.
To open the second quarter, Phoenix scored the first four points, getting its deficit back down to 10 points. But with the Pacers' second unit in the game, Indiana regained control, using buckets from Joe Young and Al Jefferson to go up 43-28 and force a Suns timeout with 6:44 remaining in the half.
Down the stretch, Indiana's offense continued to stay in its groove, as Oladipo began to put on an All-Star display for the home crowd. With minutes left in the half, Oladipo cocked back a dunk and pounded it with one hand, sending the crowd into bedlam. On his next possession, Oladipo connected on a stepback 3-pointer, helping create Indiana's sizable 63-44 halftime advantage.
"I think our defense was key," explained Bojan Bogdanovic, who finished with 17 points. "Our great defense led to many points, especially in the first half. We kind of struggled on the defensive boards, against (Greg) Monroe; but at the end, we controlled the game, so it was easy for us."
As the second half got underway, the Pacers made it clear that the game was out of reach for Phoenix, going on a dominating 14-2 run to start the half which triggered a timeout from the Suns. The streak of offense featured three buckets from Domantas Sabonis, who racked up a 19-point, eight-rebound game on the same night he was selected for the NBA's Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend.
In the fourth, the Suns rallied for an impressive 28-5 run that caused McMillan to reinsert some of his starters, but with the 34-point lead entering the fourth quarter, the Pacers safely cruised to their seventh win in their last 10 games.
Inside the Numbers
Indiana never trailed in during Wednesday's win.
The Pacers ran their lead up to as many as 38 points in the third quarter. They shot 71.4 percent (15-for-21) from the field in the third period, and 64.5 percent (40-for-62) over the first three quarter to lead 99-65 entering the fourth.
Thaddeus Young, who was 10-of-13 from the field, was a game-high +37 while on the floor.
Indiana piled up 32 assists on 45 field goals in tonight's win. The Pacers are 14-2 when they record 25 or more assists, and 6-0 when they record 30 or more.
You Can Quote Me On That
"He and I talked about the way to play the game and I think he plays the game the right way. Those are the type of plays that he has to make. He's capable of making them. When teams are committing two to him, he has to be a willing passer and give up the ball. I thought tonight he did that. That's going to open up some things for him later against other teams." -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan
"We just came out here and tried to get the job done. Go out there and play, playing on both ends of the floor, set the tone, set our pace and we did a great job doing that tonight." -Victor Oladipo
"For us to compete with a team like this, we have to have everybody play well. We didn't have very many play well, not until the end. The guys at the end, give them credit, they came in, played the right way, shared the ball and moved the basketball." -Suns head coach Jay Triano
Stat of the Night
Indiana finished with a season-high 36 fastbreak points and outscored the Suns 26-14 in points off turnovers.
- Rookie Ben Moore played his first NBA minutes. the SMU product was on the floor for three minutes and recorded one assist.
- Suns rookie Josh Jackson led his team in scoring with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
- Indiana outscored Phoenix 26-18 on the fastbreak.
The Pacers head to Cleveland on Friday night to try to complete a season sweep of LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The action tips off at 7:30 PM ET.
After their trip to Cleveland, the Pacers return home to face the Orlando Magic on Saturday night at 7 PM ET Find Tickets »
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 107.5 FM/AM 1070 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)
Please Note: Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on 1080 AM instead of 1070.