Suns scorch Pacers yet again

Phoenix scores 62 second-half points, starters have 44-point edge, to sweep two-game season series from visiting Indiana.

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.

Center Roy Hibbert, in his first game after missing four with a sprained ankle, scored 15. Backup point guard C.J. Watson had 14. David West and Chris Copeland each finished with 10.

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+.

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