A run of 21 unanswered points spanning the third and fourth quarters powered the Phoenix Suns to a 114-99 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday in seeding-round competition.
The Suns (30-39) moved to a perfect 4-0 since the restart from the COVID-19 hiatus, and did so trailing for less than three total minutes against a Pacers team that came into Thursday's matchup also undefeated through three games in the Orlando-area bubble.
Indiana (42-27) led on the game's first basket, then again a few minutes later before Phoenix took over. The Pacers surged to grab a 72-70 lead with a little more than three minutes remaining in the third quarter and pushed it to 75-72 before Suns coach Monty Williams turned to his bench.
Cameron Payne led the Phoenix reserves in igniting the decisive run, scoring 12 of his 15 points over that stretch. Dario Saric added another 16 points off the bench, as the Suns' 34-16 scoring advantage from the back-ups made the difference.
The Pacers went scoreless for more than five minutes, the worst stretch in an all-around trying offensive day. TJ Warren led the NBA in scoring through the first three games in the seeding round and tied an Indiana franchise record for points over a three-game stretch (119).
Phoenix held Warren to 16 points on 7-of-20 shooting from the floor. Malcolm Brogdon led all scorers with 25 points and helped buoy a fourth-quarter rally.
The Suns' run extended their lead to 18 points, but Victor Oladipo made back-to-back 3-pointers, Brogdon added another and the Pacers' 13-1 burst pulled them within six points.
Oladipo finished with 16 points, and Myles Turner added 17. Warren finished with a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds.
Deandre Ayton led the Phoenix response. He followed a blocked shot of Brogdon on one end with a dunk on the other. He then grabbed an offensive rebound leading to a Devin Booker 3-pointer, then slammed home another dunk off a Ricky Rubio alley-oop that pushed the Suns ahead by 15 points with three minutes remaining.
Ayton scored a team-high 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots. Cameron Johnson and Booker also recorded double-doubles for the Suns at 14 points and 12 rebounds, and 20 points with 10 assists, respectively.
--Field Level Media