The Indiana Pacers were looking to bounce back from their thumping at the hands of the Utah Jazz (who had their six-game winning streak snapped by the streaking Dallas Mavericks). For three quarters, they were in control of a tough game against the Amare Stoudemire-less Phoenix Suns, but again, the team broke down in the fourth quarter and allowed the Suns to run away with it, 105-97. With the loss, the promising Pacers fell to 9-9.
Channing Frye led the Suns with 29 points, but the main reason the Pacers faltered was because of their staggering 24 turnovers. As Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said, "You can't win a game with that many turnovers."
The Pacers 'stars', Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert, both had arguably their worst games of the season. Granger shot 2-13 for just 8 points in 36 minutes, while Hibbert was in foul trouble all night and had just 8 points and a single rebound in 18 minutes.
On the bright side, other players got a chance to shine. Brandon Rush top scored with 21 points on 9-16 shooting and Mike Dunleavy broke out of a slump of sorts to score 16 points on 6-11 shooting. Josh McRoberts also had 16 points to go with 9 rebounds, but he also had a ridiculous 8 turnovers.
Looks like the coming out party is official over for the Pacers. I think the loss is another good learning experience for the Pacers, who were getting way more media attention than they deserved for their recent play. Yes, it's good to be optimistic, but I was afraid the Pacers would start getting too happy with their newfound success and forget doing the things that they had been doing. Tonight, they allowed the suns to score 50+ points in both halves and gave up way too many open shots to the Suns, especially in transition.
Hopefully this will remind them that they are still a team fighting for a bottom 4 playoff spot as opposed to a contender, and that they need to play hard on D every night for a chance to win.
On Monday, the Pacers go back to Conseco Fieldhouse to take on the Toronto Raptors. After that, they go to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks, a team that has already beaten the Pacers once in a tight one earlier in the season. Then they take on the Charlotte Bobcats back in Indiana. Given the tough games coming up against the Hawks, Bulls, Lakers, Hornets, Grizzlies and Boston, the Pacers must look at all three games as must-wins.