Even on a lengthy road trip and playing on back-to-back nights, Phoenix can score.
And although at home for the week, given plenty of rest with two home games in a span of six days, the Indiana Pacers are still point disadvantaged.
Those contrasts, with a side order of an overly expressive Gerald Green thrown in, made for a rather uninteresting outcome Saturday night for the home team in a 106-83 Pacers loss to the Suns at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Oh, and Indiana’s injury record skipped yet again. Twice. Sigh.
As if Indiana hasn’t had enough adversity with so many guys sidelined, center Roy Hibbert sprained his left ankle and played about seven minutes while reserve guard Rodney Stuckey sprained his left wrist after falling over a cameraman. Pacers coach Frank Vogel categorized both as day-to-day.
“I don’t feel bad for us,” Vogel said. “We go out and try to win with the guys we have in uniform.”
But by night’s end, the number of healthy Pacers bodies had been reduced to nine.
Phoenix (9-5) won its fourth consecutive road game and never trailed after Green hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first quarter for a 30-27 advantage. The Suns entered the night fifth in the NBA at 105.2 points per game. The Pacers (5-8), who have yet to shoot 50 percent in a game this season, were ranked 28th at 91.6 points per game.
Green seemed determined to outscore his old team by himself, as if he needed to get some payback for Indiana dealing him in 2013 as part of the Luis Scola trade. More often than not, Green had something to say after each score. He flashed hand signals to fans along the baseline after throwing down a second-quarter dunk.
At one point in the second half, Green looked at Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek and assured, “I’ve got this.” He scored a game-high 23 points off the bench.
“That’s the way I’ve been playing since I got traded,” Green said. “I’m still doing the same stuff, the only difference now is that I play. I never played when I was here.”
Green averaged 18 minutes per game in the 60 he played for the Pacers in 2012-13, but he shot just 36.6 percent overall and 31.4 percent on 3-pointers. He’s a career 42.7 percent shooter, and is hitting at 43.3 percent this season after shooting 44.5 percent with the Suns last season.
The Suns are his seventh NBA team in eight seasons.
“I have something to prove every night,” Green said. “I’m motivated by everybody, not just the Pacers. I was out of this league for two years.”
The Pacers still have a lot to prove when it comes to scoring and, as this game showed, defending high-powered offenses. Indiana shot 36.9 percent (31-of-84). The Pacers’ best shooting night of this young season was 48.1 percent in a road win at Chicago last Saturday.
“It was just a little bit of everything,” said Pacers reserve center Ian Mahinmi, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. “We didn’t have our best night shooting the ball. Also, they were really hot.”
The Suns hit 12-of-31 from 3-point range. Green had five of them.
Phoenix put this one away with a 25-16 third quarter for a 16-point lead. The advantage eventually grew to 25 points. The Suns have won eight of 10 at Indiana.
It’s the second time this season the Pacers have lost by 20 or more points, the other eight days ago at home to Denver, 108-87. They thought they had some momentum with four wins sandwiched around the Nuggets debacle.
But everything quickly fell apart. Hibbert limped off the court in the first quarter. He tried to return later, but couldn’t help, and exited again.
Forward Chris Copeland hit a couple of 3-pointers and another basket for eight early points in the first quarter. Then he didn’t score the rest of the night.
Scola, who has seemed more interested in passing than looking to score, managed one point and took just four shots. On a team missing so many starters, the Pacers obviously need more from him.
Stuckey led the Pacers with 14 points off the bench in a 3-for-10 shooting night that ended with the wrist injury. Solomon Hill continued his determined effort with 13, making 6-of-13 shots.
The Pacers won’t be home much in the next two weeks. They play at Dallas on Monday, which begins a stretch of six out of seven on the road. The lone home game is against Orlando Friday night.
And there doesn’t appear to be any good news on the injury front in terms of players returning. Forward David West is still probably a week away with an ankle sprain, as is backup point guard C.J. Watson with a foot injury. Point guard George Hill will probably need more time with a knee issue. None of the three have yet to play in the regular season.
“We’re going into a tough house in Dallas,” Mahinmi said. “We have to play better. We will play better.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.