x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

‘We should play like that every game’ says Dragic as Suns burn Pacers in 24-point win

Slovenian guard Goran Dragic scored 21 points, Gerald Green had 23 and the Phoenix Suns score more points than any other team this season against the Indiana Pacers in a 124-100 win on Wednesday night.

Goran Dragic, centre, had 21 points for the Suns on Wednesday. Christian Petersen / Getty Images / AFP
Goran Dragic, centre, had 21 points for the Suns on Wednesday. Christian Petersen / Getty Images / AFP

PHOENIX, United States // The team with the NBA’s best record had their worst game of the season Wednesday night.

The Phoenix Suns simply ran the Indiana Pacers and their vaunted defence off the court, 124-100.

It was the most points allowed by the Pacers this season and matched their most one-sided loss.

The Suns snapped Indiana’s five-game winning streak but it was no cause for alarm, the Pacers’ George Hill said.

“We spoil you guys with great defence,” he said, “so when you do have a bad game you think the world is going to end.”

The surprising Suns won their 24th game, one fewer than they did all of last season.

“Heck of an offensive performance by the Phoenix Suns,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “Their shot-making was off the charts.”

Gerald Green led the Suns with 23 points against his former team, not that it meant anything that special. Green’s had a lot of former teams.

“This is my seventh team, man,” he said. “I’ve been down this road before.”

Indiana have the league’s best record (33-8) and are the NBA leader in scoring defence and field goal percentage defence. But the Pacers were on their heels from the start.

“We knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy and play with a lot of energy,” Indiana’s Paul George said. “We just did a terrible job of responding to it. They just caught fire and once one of them fell, they all had that confidence to keep shooting.”

Goran Dragic scored 21, Markieff Morris 20, PJ Tucker 13, Miles Plumlee 11 and Channing Frye 10 for the Suns.

George scored 26, Hill 16 and David West 13 for Indiana.

Phoenix scored 62 points in each half, the most allowed by the Pacers in any half this season.

“We should play like that every game,” Dragic said. “We should play like that against everybody, even if they are last in the standings.”

Phoenix led by 13 at the half, as many as 24 in the third quarter and 26 in the fourth.

Green and Plumlee came to the Suns along with a first-round draft pick in a trade that sent Luis Scola to Indiana in the off-season. Scola scored five on Wednesday night.

The Suns shot 54 per cent, including 11-of-16 from three-point range. The Pacers committed 21 turnovers, resulting in 27 Phoenix points. The Suns had 10 turnovers for 10 Indiana points.

The Suns led 62-49 at the break.

The onslaught started when Phoenix opened the second quarter with a 14-2 run that put the Suns ahead 44-31. Frye and Green each sank a three in the surge.

The Pacers, having trouble with some of the Suns’ best offensive pressure of the season, never got closer than nine the rest of the half.

Tucker’s three-pointer from the corner put Phoenix ahead 59-45, then Dragic made 1-of-2 free throws and it was 60-45. George sank a jumper, then with 9.8 seconds left, Dragic made an 18-footer and the Suns were up 62-47. George’s step-back 21-footer at the buzzer cut it to 62-49. Green scored 18 in the first half, George 14.

The Suns turned it up a notch to start the second half, opening with a 10-2 run to lead 72-51 on Tucker’s basket. When Dragic sank a three moments later, Phoenix led 79-55 with 7:12 left in the third quarter. The Suns led 96-79 entering the fourth.

“I thought our guys really focused at the start of the third quarter to really build that lead, rather than let them come right back in the game,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said.

The Pacers scored the first four points of the final quarter to make it 96-83, but Ish Smith scored on a drive, Morris sank consecutive threes and Phoenix led 105-83 in one of the most raucous environments at US Airways Center this season.

With 6:06 to go, Vogel raised the white flag, emptying his bench with his team trailing 109-83.


Thunder 111, Spurs 105

Kevin Durant had another stellar offensive performance, scoring 36 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat San Antonio to move a half-game in front of the Spurs for the best record in the Western Conference.

Durant recorded his ninth straight game with at least 30 points, going 12-of-22 from the field and 10-of-11 from the free throw line for the Thunder (33-10).

Guard Tony Parker, who sat out Sunday’s game with a bruised right shin, led San Antonio (32-10) with a season high 37.

Rockets 119, Kings 98

The Sacramento Kings lost two key offensive cogs to injury in their defeat to the Houston Rockets.

DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings’ leading scorer and rebounder, limped off after spraining his left ankle with 7:17 left in the second.

Rudy Gay, fresh off a 41-point, eight-rebound performance Tuesday night in New Orleans, departed with a left Achilles injury at the 6:01 mark in the first quarter.

Sacramento (15-26) scuffled without them while Dwight Howard put up 26 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks for the Rockets (29-15).

76ers 110, Knicks 106

Evan Turner scored a season-high 34 points to help the Philadelphia 76ers to a 110-106 win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

Turner also grabbed 11 rebounds, and put his team ahead 107-100 in the final 1:14, as the 76ers (14-28) snapped a three-game losing streak.

The Knicks (15-27) were led by forward Carmelo Anthony, who popped in 28 points and dished out seven assists, tying his season best.

Raptors 93, Mavericks 85

DeMar DeRozan scored a career-best 40 points and the Toronto Raptors came back from 21 points down to defeat the Dallas Mavericks.

Toronto (21-20) outscored Dallas 78-51 over the final three quarters to dig out of an early hole.

Monta Ellis led Dallas (25-19) with 21 points.

Bulls 98, Cavaliers 87

DJ Augustin scored a game-high 27 points to lead the depleted Chicago Bulls to a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Augustin started in place of the injured Kirk Hinrich, while forward Taj Gibson matched his career high with 26 points for the Bulls (21-20) in place of injured Carlos Boozer.

Cavs (15-27) forward Luol Deng made his first start against his former team since being traded this year, but made just 2-of-11 shots and scored 11 points.

Bobcats 95, Clippers 91

Gerald Henderson dunked with 22.5 seconds left and Josh McRoberts hit two free throws with 13.9 seconds left to give the Charlotte Bobcats a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Henderson’s dunk, off a lob from guard Ramon Sessions, broke an 89-89 tie.

Al Jefferson led the Bobcats (19-25) with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers (29-15) with 27 points. Jamal Crawford scored 20.

Celtics 113, Wizards 111 (Overtime)

Jeff Green scored a season-high 39 points with a career-best eight three-pointers and Gerald Wallace hit the game-winning layup with 2.5 seconds remaining in overtime as the short-handed Boston Celtics outlasted the Washington Wizards.

The Celtics (15-29) had lost three straight games.

John Wall tallied his second career triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, for Washington (20-21) but missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.

Hawks 112, Magic 109

Paul Millsap had 24 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a victory over the Orlando Magic.

The Hawks (22-19) scored the last seven points – all from the free-throw line – as the Magic (11-32) fumbled away a chance to win.

Rookie guard Victor Oladipo led the Magic with 24 points.

Bucks 104, Pistons 101

Caron Butler scored 30 points and the Bucks snapped a nine-game losing streak with a victory over the Pistons.

Detroit (17-25) point guard Brandon Jennings, who spent his first four NBA seasons in Milwaukee after the Bucks (8-33) took him 10th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, finished with 30 points and four assists.