20121206_ajl_as8_109

Goran Dragic's injury has come at a bad time for those fans who want to watch the Suns win games. With Dragic at the helm, the Suns are very steady in the closing minutes and find ways to get easy scores. Without him, the Suns are just as likely to turn the ball over as they are to score. When you do that, your chances of winning go in the toilet.

In the last two games, the Suns have held a fourth quarter lead against a winning team (90-86 over Knicks, 83-81 over Pacers) only to lose.

After taking late leads at the 5:19 mark of each game, the Suns scored on only 7 of 24 possessions (5 field goals, 2 trips to the line) while committing 7 killer turnovers for an overall 29% conversion rate. Not surprisingly, they got outscored 29-15 by the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers in those closing minutes.

Compare that to a 47% conversion rate on late-game possessions in the 6 prior close games (decided by three points or less), with only 4 turnovers in 63 chances, when Dragic is at the helm and the last two games look even worse. That kind of conversion rate would have been won these games.

Let's look at the Pacers and Knicks games in more detail.

Pacers game: In the final 5:19 after taking a 2-point lead, the Suns made only 3 of 11 shots with 3 turnovers to 1 assist while the Pacers outscored the Suns 16-8 on the back of 14 free throw attempts and 0 turnovers. Sebastian Telfair, who otherwise had an excellent game, went 1-5 with a turnover while Luis Scola had 2 turnovers and committed 2 personal fouls. The Suns only attempted one shot at the rim during this run vs. 10 jumpers.

Knicks game: In the final 5:19 after taking a 4-point lead, the Suns made only 2 of 6 shots with 4 turnovers to 2 assists while the Knicks outscored the Suns 13-7 on the back of 5-for-9 shooting against only 1 turnover. Yes, this was the JR Smith game in which he made 2 tightly contested jumpers to score the Knicks last 4 points in the final 30 seconds.

Failure in late-game execution without their starting PG Goran Dragic has killed the team. Amid all the failings of the team so far this year, late-game execution has not been one of those failings. In fact, the Suns have done well at the end of games. Sure, they have missed a few gimmes in closing seconds and conversely have allowed back-breaking contested jump shots but that's it. The Suns misses were good shots while they have been killed by bad ones.

Before Dragic hurt his tailbone on a bad foul, the Suns were 3-2 in games decided by three points or less in regulation with another three going to overtime where the Suns won 1 of 3.

How was the Suns' execution in those?

  • Portland, Dec 22: In the final 6:49 after taking a 1-point lead, the Suns made 5 of 12 shots with 1 turnover to 5 assists, but Portland outscored the Suns 14-10 by making 5 of 9 shots, including both of their 3-pt attempts. Dragic missed his only two shots attempts but did have 1 assist to 0 turnovers.
  • Memphis, Dec 12: In the final 5:43 of a tie game, the Suns scored on only 3 of 9 possessions (two baskets, one trip to the line vs. 2 turnovers) but outscored Memphis 6-4 by holding them to 2 of 6 shooting with 2 turnovers of their own. Dragic made the game-winning shot, a twisting layup amongst three defenders with no time left.
  • Dallas, Dec 6: In the final 5:30 with Dallas holding an 10-point lead, the Suns scored on 11 of 16 possessions (7 baskets, 4 trips to the line vs. 1 turnover) and outscored Dallas 23-16, only to lose on Mayo's step-back contested jumpshot. Telfair and Dragic played together in those final minutes, scoring or assisting on 6 of 11 scoring trips.
  • Philadelphia, Nov 25: In the final 6:00 with Sixers holding a 7-point lead, the Suns scored on 7 of 13 possessions (6 baskets, 1 trip to the line vs. 0 turnovers) and outscored Philly 14-10. But Beasley missed a tying layup attempt in the final seconds and Philly closed out the win.
  • New Orleans, Nov 23: In the final 5:40 of regulation plus 5 minutes of OT with the Suns holding an 11-point lead, the Suns scored on only 7 of their last 19 possessions (5 baskets, 2 trips to the line vs. 0 turnovers), and were outscored by Orlando's hot shooting 23-15. Luckily, Orlando's run started with the Suns holding an 11 point lead. Dragic scored or assisted on 4 of those 7 possessions with committing any turnovers.

I could go on, but you get the gist.

The Suns have had a lot of failings and head-shaking moments. But even the darkest-hearted Suns fan has to admit that the Suns have played a lot of exciting, close games.

In close games, the Suns have been protective of the ball and pretty successful on offense in the closing minutes. Sure, the Suns don't have a "closer" but Gentry and Dragic have done a reputable job getting buckets in closing minutes without turning the ball over.

In those prior 6 close contests decided by three points or less or in overtime, the Suns scored on 33 of 69 possessions (47% conversion rate) with just a small handful of turnovers littered in those 69 possessions. The Suns won 4 of 7 tight games overall, with the three losses being those the Suns were fighting back from larger deficits only to make the game close at the end.

But in the last two games (both losses), the Suns scored on only 7 of 24 possessions (29% conversion rate) with as many turnovers as scores.

Killer.

Let's hope Goran Dragic's butt feels better tonight against Minnesota.

Another late lead thrown away. Another road game lost. The Phoenix Suns fell to the Indiana Pacers 97-91 on Friday night in a game they should have won. This season has been marked by long streaks,...

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20121228_jrc_ss1_016

The first unit offense came out in sync and executed well to start the game with Sebastian Telfair taking over for the Injured Goran Dragic without a hitch. Indiana quickly called a timeout with the Suns up 12-7 and then came re-energized taking advantage of sloppy play by Shannon Brown causing two quick turnovers that led to easy points at the other end of the floor, to take the lead 14-12 in just over a minute.

Gentry followed suit calling a timeout of his own and the Suns tried to regain their composure but could never quite regain the lead in the first quarter as the Pacers led 27-20 at the end of one. The Suns poor offense was exacerbated by Dudley getting two quick fouls and going to the bench after only eight minutes of play.

The Suns' second unit started the second quarter with Kendall Marshall backing up Telfair at the point. Tyler Hansbrough continued to lead the attack with hustle and scoring inside while Gerald Green showed he is more than just a dunker as he hit back to back threes. The Suns went on a mini run and the Pacers went back to their starting unit to make a run of their own to eventually extend the lead 58-44 at the end of the first half.

Jared Dudley didn't score until the second quarter and had only four points at the half. Likewise, Telfair had only six points on 2-6 shooting to go along with his three assists. The Suns couldn't find the go-to guy they so desperately needed in the first half, and their defense was also sorely lacking with poor rotations that left shooters open on the perimeter, allowing them to knock down 70% of their three point attempts.

Marcin Gortat came out strong to start the second half along with Jared Dudley who made some nice passes and a steal to cut the lead to 8 halfway through the third quarter. Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown also came out more aggressive providing the Suns with additional scoring threats on the outside. The Suns and Pacers battled back and forth with the Suns showing more energy and improved defense in the third quarter, and Phoenix was eventually able to cut the lead down to four at the end of the third quarter 75-71. The Suns held the Pacers to just 6 of 21 shooting in the 3rd quarter, thanks to much improved defense and hustle than they showed in the first half.

The Suns started the fourth quarter with a hybrid starter/bench unit of Sebastian Telfair, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, and Jermaine O'Neal. Morris and Tucker came in for Scola and Dudley after about five minutes, but head coach Alvin Gentry likely didn't trust going back to a full on second unit headed by Kendall Marshall after fighting back to get the game within reach, so he chose to rest only a couple players at a time.

The Suns got within just two points of the Pacers on two consecutive possessions but Beasley missed on both trips. Finally, Telfair was able to poke the ball free and tie up the game on a fast break for the first time since the first quarter at 81-81 with just over six minutes to go in the game. Jermaine O'Neal was then sent to the line and gave the Suns their first lead since the first quarter, but the Pacers answered back with a couple of free throws on the next possession to tie the game once again.

The Suns gave it their best effort in the fourth, but ultimately it just wasn't enough. Once again, the Suns fell behind early and battled back in the second half to retake the lead, but ultimately fell short as the Pacers hung on to win in the end 97-91.

The Pacers got to the line early and often and were able to convert 17-23 from the charity stripe and also shot 50% from beyond the arc. The Pacers' best player tonight was George Hill who scored 22 points on 9-13 shooting from the field. Sebastian Telfair played a solid game for the Suns scoring 19 points on 8-20 shooting and dishing out 6 assists in over 40 minutes of play. Marcin Gortat also did his part with a double-double of 15 points,10 rebounds while holding Hibbert to only 8 points, though Hibbert did win the battle of the boards getting 14 rebounds in all.

Next game is tomorrow night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. Hang in there Suns fans.

20121226_mjr_su5_125

The Phoenix Suns will take on the Indiana Pacers on the road tonight in an attempt to get themselves back on track. Will the Suns have what it takes to snap their three-game losing streak and pull out a win against an Eastern Conference playoff hopeful?

Tonight, the 11-18 Phoenix Suns will take on the 16-12 Indiana Pacers in their first of a three-game road trip. The Suns are coming off a heart-breaking loss at home against the New York Knicks (minus Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and Amare Stoudemire), thanks to a last-second catch-and-shoot from J.R. Smith who somehow made the heavily contested, falling-to-the-side jumper to end a valiant come-back effort from Phoenix.

To make matters worse, the Suns will likely be without starting point guard Goran Dragic who suffered a bruised wrist, forearm, and hip after crashing to the floor on a fast break attempt against the Knicks. However, the Pacers are also dealing with the loss of one of their best players as well; Danny Granger is still sidelined from a knee injury that has had him dressing in suits for the last month and a half.

The good news for the Suns is that they seem to have found their identity as a team who never gives up and takes pride in their newly discovered defense. Not only that, but they seem to have found a good fit for their starting line-up finally, with a nice mix of athleticism, scoring ability, and veteran savvy in their starting five. But can the Suns find a way to get a much needed win on the road without their starting point guard?

When: Tonight, 5pm MST/7pm EST

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona (locally), NBA League Pass

The History:

  • This will be the 75th meeting between the two teams with the Suns holding a 43-32 advantage.
  • The Suns have won four-straight games against the Pacers.
  • Phoenix is 6-7 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, winning six of their last seven meetings.
  • LAST MEETING: In Indiana March 23, 2012, Suns won 113-111

Probable Starters:

Sebastian Telfair vs. Lance Stephenson

Shannon Brown vs. George Hill

Jared Dudley vs. Paul George

Luis Scola vs. David West

Marcin Gortat vs. Roy Hibbert

UPDATE: Goran officially out

Guard @goran_dragic is officially out for tonight's game at Indiana and is listed as questionable for Saturday's game at Minnesota.

— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) December 28, 2012

By The Numbers:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Goran Dragic 28 31.9 5.0 11.2 44.7 1.4 4.1 35.1 2.7 3.7 73.1 0.7 2.1 2.8 6.2 2.2 1.6 0.2 2.6 14.1
Shannon Brown 29 27.7 4.9 11.7 41.5 1.1 3.6 30.8 2.1 2.5 84.7 0.5 2.1 2.6 2.2 1.5 1.0 0.2 1.7 12.9
Jared Dudley 29 29.0 4.3 8.6 50.0 1.6 3.8 41.3 1.7 2.1 80.3 1.0 1.9 2.9 2.5 1.1 1.1 0.1 1.6 11.8
Luis Scola 29 25.8 5.0 10.7 46.8 0.0 0.3 12.5 1.7 2.1 81.7 2.0 4.2 6.2 2.0 1.3 0.9 0.4 2.9 11.7
Marcin Gortat 29 31.2 4.9 9.2 53.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.5 2.2 68.8 2.1 6.4 8.5 1.2 1.5 0.7 2.0 2.0 11.2
Michael Beasley 28 24.4 4.1 10.9 37.8 0.8 2.5 32.4 1.4 2.0 72.7 0.9 2.8 3.7 2.3 2.2 0.4 0.7 1.8 10.5
Markieff Morris 29 21.8 3.5 8.3 42.1 0.6 1.6 35.6 0.9 1.2 71.4 1.7 3.0 4.7 1.3 0.9 0.9 0.6 2.3 8.4
Jermaine O`Neal 22 16.8 2.9 5.5 51.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 1.9 75.6 1.1 3.3 4.5 0.6 0.9 0.4 1.5 2.0 7.1
Sebastian Telfair 28 18.4 2.1 5.6 37.6 0.9 2.3 38.1 1.0 1.3 73.0 0.3 1.3 1.6 2.7 1.2 0.8 0.2 2.1 6.0
P.J. Tucker 27 17.4 1.9 3.7 52.0 0.1 0.4 40.0 0.7 1.1 62.1 1.1 2.0 3.2 1.0 0.6 0.5 0.3 1.6 4.7
Wesley Johnson 12 5.8 0.9 2.8 33.3 0.3 1.2 28.6 0.2 0.3 66.7 0.1 0.7 0.8 0.4 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.5 2.3
Luke Zeller 9 3.7 0.7 1.8 37.5 0.1 0.3 33.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.6 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 1.4
Kendall Marshall 7 5.4 0.4 1.6 27.3 0.1 0.7 20.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.7 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.4 1.0
Diante Garrett 6 5.0 0.3 0.8 40.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.3 50.0 0.0 0.5 0.5 1.2 0.7 0.3 0.0 0.2 0.8



FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
David West 28 33.9 7.3 14.6 49.6 0.0 0.2 0.0 2.9 4.1 70.4 2.2 5.9 8.1 2.7 1.8 0.6 1.0 1.9 17.4
Paul George 28 35.9 6.1 14.2 42.7 2.0 5.3 38.5 2.1 2.6 81.1 0.9 6.2 7.1 3.6 2.6 1.5 0.9 2.9 16.3
George Hill 28 35.5 5.2 12.7 40.8 1.7 4.8 35.3 3.0 3.5 85.6 0.6 3.9 4.5 5.3 1.8 1.0 0.5 1.8 15.0
Roy Hibbert 28 28.6 4.2 10.4 40.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 2.2 64.5 3.8 4.4 8.2 1.5 2.0 0.7 2.9 3.5 9.9
Gerald Green 27 22.0 2.7 7.1 38.7 1.1 3.1 36.5 1.1 1.4 78.9 0.7 2.3 3.0 0.6 1.3 0.1 0.4 1.3 7.7
Lance Stephenson 26 26.1 3.0 6.1 50.0 0.7 2.0 37.3 0.5 0.7 68.4 0.3 2.6 2.9 2.6 1.1 0.8 0.0 1.8 7.3
Tyler Hansbrough 28 16.3 1.7 4.1 41.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.5 3.5 72.4 1.5 2.6 4.1 0.3 0.9 0.3 0.2 1.8 6.0
Ian Mahinmi 28 16.0 1.7 4.0 42.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.5 62.9 1.4 2.3 3.7 0.3 1.3 0.4 0.9 2.5 5.0
Sam Young 26 16.6 1.5 4.0 38.8 0.5 1.7 29.5 0.3 0.8 40.0 0.6 2.4 3.0 0.9 0.8 0.3 0.2 1.3 3.9
D.J. Augustin 23 12.7 1.0 3.7 27.9 0.5 2.2 22.0 0.7 1.0 70.8 0.1 0.8 0.9 2.3 0.9 0.6 0.0 0.7 3.3
Jeff Pendergraph 7 4.0 0.9 1.7 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 0.7 80.0 0.4 1.1 1.6 0.3 0.6 0.0 0.3 0.6 2.3
Ben Hansbrough 10 8.4 0.4 1.4 28.6 0.1 0.8 12.5 0.8 1.0 80.0 0.1 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.1 0.5 0.1 1.0 1.7
Miles Plumlee 6 3.5 0.3 1.5 22.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 100.0 0.8 0.5 1.3 0.3 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.5 1.0
Orlando Johnson 3 2.7 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0


Keys to a Suns Victory:

Short Memory:

The Suns can't get hung up on what happened against the Knicks on Wednesday night, they need to put that game behind them and start over fresh and ready to compete against a pretty good and underrated Pacers team. The Suns need to come out strong and ready to play for 48 minutes...They can't afford to let themselves fall behind early against a good team in hostile territory.

Point Guards:

If the Suns are indeed without Dragic tonight, which head coach Alvin Gentry hinted at yesterday, then the Suns will need some stellar play from Sebastian Telfair to lead the starting unit. Not only that, but the Suns will need Kendall Marshall to step up and lead the second unit in what will likely be the first substantial minutes of his NBA career.

Superstar?

Jared Dudley had the game of his life against the Knicks on Wednesday night, scoring a career-high 36 points in the loss. Although the Suns don't have a superstar on the team by any stretch of the imagination, they will need someone to step up tonight and once again provide that kind of scoring, whether it be Dudley again or someone else.

Hibbert vs. Gortat:

Marcin Gortat has been on an upswing of sorts after a few weeks of very mediocre play. The Polish Machine has once again re-emerged as a legitimate threat down low on both sides of the court, and the Suns will need his best tonight against the 7'1" Roy Hibbert. In their last meeting (which the Suns won), Gortat got the best of this match-up with a 23 point, 8 rebound performance, compared to Hibbert's 19 points and 7 rebounds. If Gortat can manage to control the glass and outscore Hibbert down low, the Suns should be in great shape.

The Bottom Line:

Although the Suns have lost the last three games, they have never lost their competitive edge and can be a very dangerous team to play against. The Suns aren't a very talented team, but they certainly have a great deal of heart and fight in them, and could still win this game even without Dragic at the helm.

However, in order to do so they will need a total team effort on both ends of the floor. Plus, they will need someone to step up tonight and provide that additional spark for the team. The Suns must also limit their mental lapses and mistakes and capitalize on those of the Pacers. Tonight will be a true test of this team's character and resolve while playing without Dragic, and it certainly won't be easy...but I wouldn't count them out just yet.

20121222_kkt_af2_791

Tonight, the 11-18 Phoenix Suns will take on the 16-12 Indiana Pacers in their first of a three-game road trip. The Suns are coming off a heart-breaking loss at home against the New York Knicks (minus Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and Amare Stoudemire), thanks to a last-second catch-and-shoot from J.R. Smith who somehow made the heavily contested, falling-to-the-side jumper to end a valiant come-back effort from Phoenix.

To make matters worse, the Suns will likely be without starting point guard Goran Dragic who suffered a bruised wrist, forearm, and hip after crashing to the floor on a fast break attempt against the Knicks. However, the Pacers are also dealing with the loss of one of their best players as well; Danny Granger is still sidelined from a knee injury that has had him dressing in suits for the last month and a half.

The good news for the Suns is that they seem to have found their identity as a team who never gives up and takes pride in their newly discovered defense. Not only that, but they seem to have found a good fit for their starting line-up finally, with a nice mix of athleticism, scoring ability, and veteran savvy in their starting five. But can the Suns find a way to get a much needed win on the road without their starting point guard?

When: Tonight, 5pm MST/7pm EST

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona (locally), NBA League Pass

The History:

  • This will be the 75th meeting between the two teams with the Suns holding a 43-32 advantage.
  • The Suns have won four-straight games against the Pacers.
  • Phoenix is 6-7 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, winning six of their last seven meetings.
  • LAST MEETING: In Indiana March 23, 2012, Suns won 113-111

Probable Starters:

Sebastian Telfair vs. Lance Stephenson

Shannon Brown vs. George Hill

Jared Dudley vs. Paul George

Luis Scola vs. David West

Marcin Gortat vs. Roy Hibbert

UPDATE: Goran officially out

Guard @goran_dragic is officially out for tonight's game at Indiana and is listed as questionable for Saturday's game at Minnesota.

— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) December 28, 2012

By The Numbers:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Goran Dragic 28 31.9 5.0 11.2 44.7 1.4 4.1 35.1 2.7 3.7 73.1 0.7 2.1 2.8 6.2 2.2 1.6 0.2 2.6 14.1
Shannon Brown 29 27.7 4.9 11.7 41.5 1.1 3.6 30.8 2.1 2.5 84.7 0.5 2.1 2.6 2.2 1.5 1.0 0.2 1.7 12.9
Jared Dudley 29 29.0 4.3 8.6 50.0 1.6 3.8 41.3 1.7 2.1 80.3 1.0 1.9 2.9 2.5 1.1 1.1 0.1 1.6 11.8
Luis Scola 29 25.8 5.0 10.7 46.8 0.0 0.3 12.5 1.7 2.1 81.7 2.0 4.2 6.2 2.0 1.3 0.9 0.4 2.9 11.7
Marcin Gortat 29 31.2 4.9 9.2 53.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.5 2.2 68.8 2.1 6.4 8.5 1.2 1.5 0.7 2.0 2.0 11.2
Michael Beasley 28 24.4 4.1 10.9 37.8 0.8 2.5 32.4 1.4 2.0 72.7 0.9 2.8 3.7 2.3 2.2 0.4 0.7 1.8 10.5
Markieff Morris 29 21.8 3.5 8.3 42.1 0.6 1.6 35.6 0.9 1.2 71.4 1.7 3.0 4.7 1.3 0.9 0.9 0.6 2.3 8.4
Jermaine O`Neal 22 16.8 2.9 5.5 51.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 1.9 75.6 1.1 3.3 4.5 0.6 0.9 0.4 1.5 2.0 7.1
Sebastian Telfair 28 18.4 2.1 5.6 37.6 0.9 2.3 38.1 1.0 1.3 73.0 0.3 1.3 1.6 2.7 1.2 0.8 0.2 2.1 6.0
P.J. Tucker 27 17.4 1.9 3.7 52.0 0.1 0.4 40.0 0.7 1.1 62.1 1.1 2.0 3.2 1.0 0.6 0.5 0.3 1.6 4.7
Wesley Johnson 12 5.8 0.9 2.8 33.3 0.3 1.2 28.6 0.2 0.3 66.7 0.1 0.7 0.8 0.4 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.5 2.3
Luke Zeller 9 3.7 0.7 1.8 37.5 0.1 0.3 33.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.6 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 1.4
Kendall Marshall 7 5.4 0.4 1.6 27.3 0.1 0.7 20.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.7 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.4 1.0
Diante Garrett 6 5.0 0.3 0.8 40.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.3 50.0 0.0 0.5 0.5 1.2 0.7 0.3 0.0 0.2 0.8



FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
David West 28 33.9 7.3 14.6 49.6 0.0 0.2 0.0 2.9 4.1 70.4 2.2 5.9 8.1 2.7 1.8 0.6 1.0 1.9 17.4
Paul George 28 35.9 6.1 14.2 42.7 2.0 5.3 38.5 2.1 2.6 81.1 0.9 6.2 7.1 3.6 2.6 1.5 0.9 2.9 16.3
George Hill 28 35.5 5.2 12.7 40.8 1.7 4.8 35.3 3.0 3.5 85.6 0.6 3.9 4.5 5.3 1.8 1.0 0.5 1.8 15.0
Roy Hibbert 28 28.6 4.2 10.4 40.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 2.2 64.5 3.8 4.4 8.2 1.5 2.0 0.7 2.9 3.5 9.9
Gerald Green 27 22.0 2.7 7.1 38.7 1.1 3.1 36.5 1.1 1.4 78.9 0.7 2.3 3.0 0.6 1.3 0.1 0.4 1.3 7.7
Lance Stephenson 26 26.1 3.0 6.1 50.0 0.7 2.0 37.3 0.5 0.7 68.4 0.3 2.6 2.9 2.6 1.1 0.8 0.0 1.8 7.3
Tyler Hansbrough 28 16.3 1.7 4.1 41.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.5 3.5 72.4 1.5 2.6 4.1 0.3 0.9 0.3 0.2 1.8 6.0
Ian Mahinmi 28 16.0 1.7 4.0 42.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.5 62.9 1.4 2.3 3.7 0.3 1.3 0.4 0.9 2.5 5.0
Sam Young 26 16.6 1.5 4.0 38.8 0.5 1.7 29.5 0.3 0.8 40.0 0.6 2.4 3.0 0.9 0.8 0.3 0.2 1.3 3.9
D.J. Augustin 23 12.7 1.0 3.7 27.9 0.5 2.2 22.0 0.7 1.0 70.8 0.1 0.8 0.9 2.3 0.9 0.6 0.0 0.7 3.3
Jeff Pendergraph 7 4.0 0.9 1.7 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 0.7 80.0 0.4 1.1 1.6 0.3 0.6 0.0 0.3 0.6 2.3
Ben Hansbrough 10 8.4 0.4 1.4 28.6 0.1 0.8 12.5 0.8 1.0 80.0 0.1 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.1 0.5 0.1 1.0 1.7
Miles Plumlee 6 3.5 0.3 1.5 22.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 100.0 0.8 0.5 1.3 0.3 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.5 1.0
Orlando Johnson 3 2.7 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0


Keys to a Suns Victory:

Short Memory:

The Suns can't get hung up on what happened against the Knicks on Wednesday night, they need to put that game behind them and start over fresh and ready to compete against a pretty good and underrated Pacers team. The Suns need to come out strong and ready to play for 48 minutes...They can't afford to let themselves fall behind early against a good team in hostile territory.

Point Guards:

If the Suns are indeed without Dragic tonight, which head coach Alvin Gentry hinted at yesterday, then the Suns will need some stellar play from Sebastian Telfair to lead the starting unit. Not only that, but the Suns will need Kendall Marshall to step up and lead the second unit in what will likely be the first substantial minutes of his NBA career.

Superstar?

Jared Dudley had the game of his life against the Knicks on Wednesday night, scoring a career-high 36 points in the loss. Although the Suns don't have a superstar on the team by any stretch of the imagination, they will need someone to step up tonight and once again provide that kind of scoring, whether it be Dudley again or someone else.

Hibbert vs. Gortat:

Marcin Gortat has been on an upswing of sorts after a few weeks of very mediocre play. The Polish Machine has once again re-emerged as a legitimate threat down low on both sides of the court, and the Suns will need his best tonight against the 7'1" Roy Hibbert. In their last meeting (which the Suns won), Gortat got the best of this match-up with a 23 point, 8 rebound performance, compared to Hibbert's 19 points and 7 rebounds. If Gortat can manage to control the glass and outscore Hibbert down low, the Suns should be in great shape.

The Bottom Line:

Although the Suns have lost the last three games, they have never lost their competitive edge and can be a very dangerous team to play against. The Suns aren't a very talented team, but they certainly have a great deal of heart and fight in them, and could still win this game even without Dragic at the helm.

However, in order to do so they will need a total team effort on both ends of the floor. Plus, they will need someone to step up tonight and provide that additional spark for the team. The Suns must also limit their mental lapses and mistakes and capitalize on those of the Pacers. Tonight will be a true test of this team's character and resolve while playing without Dragic, and it certainly won't be easy...but I wouldn't count them out just yet.

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