The first of seven consecutive games against teams with winning records didn’t end well for the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night.
Phoenix went on a 12-0 run in a 33-point final quarter to defeat the visiting Pacers 116-99 at U.S. Airways Center.
The Suns outscored the Pacers 62-43 in the second half, including 33-20 in the closing quarter.
Suns guard Goran Dragic hit a couple of 3-pointers during the run as part of his game- and season-high 34 points. The Slovenian guard hit 11-of-15 shots, including five-of-six from 3-point range.
Indiana also didn’t have a defensive answer for Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, who scored a season-high 27.
“They have two electrifying guards playing together. It’s a difficult matchup,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said in a TV interview.
The Pacers (7-11) shot a season-best 59 percent in the first half with the bench providing 34 points. But the lead was just 56-54. The Suns (11-8) built a 12-point lead in the third quarter before Indiana battled back to close the deficit to 83-79 entering the fourth.
That was as close as the visitors would come. The Pacers’ Solomon Hill missed a pair of foul shots with the deficit at four, then the Suns went on their run, which began with a Dragic 3-pointer.
Phoenix had a 38-15 edge in fast-break points, 23 of those points in the second half.
Vogel acknowledged his starters have been outplayed in each of the last two games, including a road loss at Cleveland on Saturday. Suns starters outscored the Pacers’ starters 86-42.
“It’s just something we’ve got to look at and work on,” Vogel said.
The outcome would have been far worse were it not for Indiana’s reserves having a 57-30 scoring edge.
Pacers reserve C.J. Miles broke out of a shooting slump with a season-high 17 points on six-of-nine shooting. His previous best was 15 in the season opener. He had not scored in double digits since a 10-point effort at Atlanta on Nov. 1.
The Suns’ Markieff Morris had 15, as did former Pacer Gerald Green, including four 3-pointers.
Indiana cooled off to finish at 48 percent shooting (41-of-85). But the Suns shot 50 percent (43-of-86), including 12-of-25 (48 percent) from 3-point range. The Pacers sank just four-of-13 3-pointers (31 percent).
Indiana’s leading rebounder, reserve forward/center Lavoy Allen, did not play until the final minutes after the game was decided. The Suns outrebounded the Pacers 44-41.
Phoenix handed the Pacers their worst defeat of the season, 106-83, on Nov. 22 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Suns also swept the two-game season series last year and have won eight of 10 overall in the series.
This challenging schedule stretch will see the Pacers play Portland (14-4) twice, Sacramento (9-8), Atlanta (10-6), the Los Angeles Clippers (12-5) and Toronto Raptors (13-4). Indiana visits the Trail Blazers Thursday and the Kings Friday before returning home Monday against the Hawks.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.