Suns Display Their Resiliency in Hard-Fought Battle with Pacers

by Cody Cunningham

The Suns returned home on Tuesday night as they tipped off against the Indiana Pacers at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Deandre Ayton went into the matchup just two rebounds shy of 200 for his short career. It didn’t take long for Ayton to reach this mark as he joined Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal as the only players to score 300 points and grab 200 rebounds in their first 20 games since 1992. 

By halftime, Ayton already had 14 points and seven rebounds and looked well on his way to his 12th double-double of the season.

After scoring at least 60 points in each first-half throughout their road trip, the Suns managed to lead the NBA in first half scoring over the four-game span. The team found themselves in a different situation on Tuesday as they were down by seven with the Pacers taking a 61-54 advantage into the break.

The Suns trimmed their deficit to just four entering the fourth quarter and that’s when T.J. Warren and Devin Booker began to take over. Warren started it off by helping lead the Suns on an 8-0 run to begin the quarter.

The Pacers battled back, but neither team could completely pull away with the four fourth-quarter lead changes. Trevor Ariza tied it up from deep with only three minutes to go as both teams sat at 99 points.

Darren Collison went to the line to give the Pacers a two-point advantage, but that was soon be matched by an Ayton bucket that would find the game tied yet again with one minute to play.

Myles Turner followed this up with a 26-foot three-pointer that forced the Suns to call a timeout with 47 seconds remaining. The plan was simple for the Suns coming out of the timeout, try to get the ball in Booker’s hands. 

And that’s exactly what they did. Booker caught the inbound pass from beyond the arc and quickly knocked down the three-pointer to tie the game. 

But of course, the Pacers had an answer, as they seemed to have all night. Bojan Bogdanovic hit from deep to put the Pacers back up by three with 30 seconds left and the Suns needed another clutch play to keep the game alive.

Booker had a nice crossover to create separation between him and Myles Turner, but the game-tying ball would just barely rim out as the Pacers grabbed the defensive rebound. The game would be closed out at the free throw line as Indiana defeated the Suns 109-104.

Both Warren and Booker were key down the stretch as they each scored eight points in just the fourth quarter. Warren finished the game with a game-high 25 points to go along with his seven rebounds. 

Booker filled the stat sheet as he battled on both ends of the court all night. He scored 20 points with eight assists, four rebounds and three steals. 

“I just look at it as a playmaker,” Booker said about his role on the team. “I’m fine with it, whatever they have me doing I’ll do. I always want to credit myself on being a basketball player – not a shooter, not a scorer, just an overall player that can do a little bit of everything. Whatever my team needs me to do I want to do.”

Ayton notched his rookie-leading 12th double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The Suns have a quick turnaround as they travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Wednesday. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona. 

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