The Slash Brothers returned tonight with their best combined game of the season, and helped carry the Suns to a much needed home win.

First Quarter

The Suns begin the game with a new starting lineup of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, and Miles Plumlee.  P.J. Tucker is getting his first start of the season to help the Suns bring more energy, defense, and rebounding back to the starting unit.  Plumlee picks up a foul on the first position trying to deny the pass to Roy Hibbert.  Rodney Stuckey makes the first shot for Indiana.  Dragic answers back with a pull up jumper at the other end for the Suns.  Stuckey hits another shot off of a second-chance shot, and Markieff misses.  Tucker then gets a rebound and passes to Bledsoe who gets the penetration jumper.

Suns still allowing too many offensive rebounds early, as Plumlee defends Hibbert well and causes a miss, but David West gets the put-back.  Suns are running in transition early though, and Dragic is attacking the basket.  Already has six points with two baskets and two free throws.  P.J. ran the fast break with Bledsoe and cleaned up the missed lay-up.  That's the kind of eneregy Suns were looking for from Tucker in the starting line-up.  Suns up 15-8 midway through the quarter.  Timeout Pacers.

Plumlee blocked a dunk from Solomon Hill at the rim that led to a Dragic three at the other end.  Suns starting out much more inspired tonight.  Len also made a great block on Hill, but then saved the ball from going out under the basket which led to an easy dunk by Ian Mahinmi.

Suns getting sloppy again and they let the Pacers right back in the game.  Pacers take the lead 21-20 with 2:45 left in the first.  Timeout Phoenix.  Gerald Green checks in and hits a three immediately to retake Suns lead, but Markieff turn the ball over on the next possession for a fast-break lay-up.  Fortunately, Green comes right back with another three for the Suns to tie it.  But C.J. Watson scores on a back-door cut to the basket to give Pacers the lead at the end of the first quarter.

At the end of the first quarter, the Suns trail the Pacers 28-26. Goran Dragic  is the leading scorer for Phoenix with 9 points, 2 rbs. C.J. Miles leads the Pacers with 7 points, 1 rebound.  Suns are shooting 50% from the field.  Pacers are shooting 56.5%.

Second Quarter

Green makes a beautiful pass to Plumlee who gets fouled on the dunk attempt, but he misses both free-throws.  Anthony Tolliver hits a three on the next possession, but C.J. Watson answers with a three for Indiana.  Plumlee has a wide open dunk knocked out of his hands, but the Suns get the ball at the other end which leads to another fast break by Dragic.  But C.J. Miles answers right back at the other end.

Suns still trading baskets back and forth with Indiana.  Can't continue to let the Pacers shoot over 50% from the field like they are right now.  Timeout Suns.

Things didn't get any better after the timeout.  The Suns are missing their shots, and the Pacers are making theirs.  Chris Copeland hit an open three and C.J. Miles drains a mid-range jumper without an answer from Phoenix.  Timeout Suns again...now they're down nine.

Suns go small with Dragic, Bledsoe, Green, Tucker, and Markieff.  This unit is playing with more energy and running the break, starting to chip away again at the Pacers lead.  Still need to get more stops and keep running.  Plumlee comes back in with about four minutes to go, and the Suns continue to keep the fast pace, but they are having some bad breaks on defense, and unable to stop Pacers from scoring.

Dragic has been the saving grace for the Suns so far, and is keeping them in the game.  He hits another big three right before half to cut the lead to just two.

At the end of the second quarter, the Suns trail the Pacers 56-54.  Goran Dragic is the leading scorer for Phoenix with 22 points on 8/10 shooting.  C.J. Watson leads the Pacers with 10 points, 5 assists.  Suns are shooting 47% from the field.  Pacers are shooting 60%.

Third Quarter

The Suns begin with the same unit that started the game.  Bledsoe slashes in from the wing and catches a pass from Dragic for the first basket.  Plumlee gets fouled on a nice pass inside, and makes one of two from the line....the one he missed was an air-ball though...oops

Suns force a shot clock hail-mary from the Pacers, but it goes in on the bank shot...it's been that kind of night for them.  Bledsoe hits another three, then Goran gets a rebound and initiates a fast break with Bledsoe along side.  Goran passes to Bledsoe for the lay-up.  Suns need more of that.  Pacers finally starting to miss as Phoenix continues to push the pace.  Suns jump up to a 66-61 lead.  Timeout Indiana.

David West hits a jumper out of the timeout, and Alex Len misses a lay-up, but Markieff gets the ball ion transition and runs for a dunk at the other end.  Suns still pushing and playing better defensively.  Pacers now down 10 with under four minutes to go in third.  Dragic is playing aggressively, and getting to the line more in this game than he has in any other this season.  His play is making all of the difference tonight.  Bledsoe, Markieff, and Green all doing their parts as well.

Green fouled Miles slapping him in the face unintentionally.  A flagrant one was assessed anyway, and the Pacers then get a terrible call on a foul by Len on Hibbert, even though his hands were straight up.  Pacers helped close the gap with that at the end on the third.

At the end of the third quarter, the Suns lead the Pacers 83-79. Goran Dragic is the leading scorer for Phoenix with 26 points.  C.J. Miles leads the Pacers with 17 points.  Suns are shooting 48.4% from the field.  Pacers are now shooting 53.1%.

Fourth Quarter

The Suns begin the fourth with a lay-up by Plumlee on an assist by Bledsoe.  Then Bledsoe pulls up off the dribble for a jumper.  Luis Scola stops the run with a patient up-and-under on Plumlee.

Marcus hits a jumper, then Bledsoe is fouled hard and gets up and walks away to avoid a technical foul.  Not a flagrant, but Bledsoe makes both free throws to keep the Suns up 10.  Bledsoe is also having a very good game...Already has 20 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds.

The Pacers started chipping away at the Suns lead again, but the Suns were able to bounce back with a Dragic three, followed by a fast break dunk from Bledsoe to put Phoenix back up by 11 with six minutes to go in the game. Timeout Pacers...Suns just need to hold on.

Suns start running more clock in half-court offense, and playing solid defense on the Pacers at the other end.  Indiana's field goal percentage keeps dropping.

The Pacers

Dragic nails another three, and then passes to Markieff to add another assist to his stat line as well.  Definitely the best game of the young season for Dragic.

Goran ends the game with 34 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in his 35 minutes of play.  Bledsoe also had a great game with his 27 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds in 38 minutes.  When the Suns' starting back court plays like they did to night, they are very hard to beat.

Game Over, Suns Win!

The Suns tightened up their defense in the third and fourth quarters, and continued to be aggressive, allowing them to take control throughout the second half.

Suns get a much needed win at home before going on a tough three-game road trip starting on Friday against the Dallas Mavericks

After US Airways and American Airlines declined to extend their naming rights deal with the Phoenix Suns, the Suns went where the money is locally and announced a deal to call their home building the Talking Stick Resort Arena. I'm sure they will try and call it "The Stick".

The Phoenix Suns announced today that Casino Arizona has taken over the naming rights for their stadium now that US Airways has ended their relationship with the Suns. US Airways is merging with American Airlines, and American already names at least one other NBA arena.

From the Suns announcement:

"Like Talking Stick Resort, this venue has become an iconic destination for entertainment in Arizona," said President Diane Enos of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the owner and operator of Talking Stick Resort. "Thousands of families and individuals have created long-lasting memories at this venue which makes its new name, ‘Talking Stick Resort Arena,' all the more meaningful. We have a shared commitment with the Phoenix Suns in building a sense of community in the Valley and we are honored to help them provide a place for so many people to gather and celebrate."

Other names suggested (but not accepted by the team) on Twitter include:

names-arena-2

suns-arena-3

suns-arena-4

suns-arena-5

suns-arena-6

names-lolos

Not all of them were good ideas, but some were quite memorable!

All were better than the "Pink Taco Stadium", named after the Pink Taco restaurant chain, that was (reportedly) nearly accepted by the Bidwill family for the Arizona Cardinals stadium many years ago before they (again, reportedly) realized the double entendre meaning of the phrase and chose University of Phoenix as the naming partner instead.

How do you feel about a publicly-funded arena bearing the name of a casino? What does it say about the local economy that this is the company with money to throw around?

PHOENIX — Say goodbye to the U.S. Airways Center, and hello to ‘The Stick’. The Phoenix Suns announced on Tuesday afternoon that they have sold their arena rights to the Salt River...

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1. There were rumbles that Isaiah Thomas was the problem to the Suns slowish than expected start… after missing him for three games do you think he is the issue? Kevin Zimmerman: Unless Thomas...

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The Suns have lost their last two games. Will they be able to get back on track with a win against the Pacers tonight?

What: Phoenix Suns Vs. Indiana Pacers

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena - Phoenix, AZ

When: 7:00 p.m. (AZ)

Watch: FSAZ (locally) / NBA League Pass

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns are playing their second home game in a row against the Indiana Pacers, after a very disappointing loss to the Orlando Magic on Sunday night.  Tonight's game will be their final home game before embarking on a very tough, three-game road-trip against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, the Houston Rockets on Saturday, and the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, before returning home to play the Miami Heat next Tuesday.

It's way too early to call tonight's game a "must-win", but...yeah.

The Pacers, on the other hand, are coming off two-days of rest after losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night, 109-97.  Although the Pacers have a losing record, they were able to beat the Orlando Magic the night before that, something the Suns found themselves unable to do on Sunday, and also stole a win in Dallas last week...so the Suns can't afford to take this team lightly.

Lineups

Team
Suns
Pacers
PG
Eric Bledsoe
Donald Sloan
SG
Goran Dragic
Rodney Stucky
SF
Marcus Morris
Solomon Hill
PF
Markieff Morris
David West
C
Miles Plumlee
Roy Hibbert

Tale of the Tape

Team
Suns
Pacers
Record
10-8
7-10
PPG
104.5 (5th
93.4 (26th)
RPG
42.3 (14th)
46.4 (2nd)
APG
20.6 (20th)
18.9 (27th)
OPPG
103.3 (25th)
95.3 (5th)
Leading Scorer
Isaiah Thomas (15.5)
David West (16.0)
Leading Rebounder
Markieff Morris (6.4)
Lavoy Allen (8.1)

What To Watch For

Energy & Intensity: These were the buzz words heard loud and clear throughout Suns' practice yesterday. The Suns need to get back to playing with energy, including a fast tempo with lots of movement on offense, and a pesky and persistent style of defense, looking for opportunities to create turnovers and run in transition.  The Suns haven't played with the same energy lately, and it has cost them.  If they can come out with intensity, and maintain it throughout, I see no reason the Suns should lose this game.

Rebounding: Too many second-chance opportunities has led to big problems for the Suns defensively.  Phoenix needs all hands on deck...or the glass...in order to keep the Pacers off of the boards and force them into a one-and-done shooting opportunity  The Pacers are very good rebounders.  Second in the league overall.  The Suns have really been struggling in this department, especially over the past week.  They will need to tighten up big time against a very good rebounding team if they want to ensure a win tonight.

Chuck Wagon: The Suns' bench is one of their greatest strengths.  The depth of the Suns is really what stands out about this team, not the top level talent.  The scoring punch of the bench has been greatly reduced without Isaiah Thomas in the line-up, and assuming he plays tonight, the Suns need to get good production from their bench to maintain and grow the lead against Indiana's reserves.

For more on tonight's game, visit the Indiana Pacer's SB Nation site, Indy Cornrows, as well.

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