PHOENIX (AP) Devin Booker found himself for a celebratory dunk in the last minute, but misjudged it. The ball hit the back of the rim and ricocheted off the pitch as the home crowd groaned.
The star guard for the Phoenix Suns walked off with a sheepish smile.
It’s one of the few things that has gone wrong lately for the best team in the NBA.
Mikal Bridges tied a season high with 23 points, Bismack Biyombo tied his career high with 21 and the Suns won their sixth straight game by beating the Indiana Pacers 113-103 on Saturday night.
Biyombo also grabbed 13 rebounds as the Suns improved their best NBA record to 36-9, shaking off a tough night for Booker, the team’s leading scorer. He finished with just 11 points on 5 of 23 shooting, including 0 for 6 3-pointers.
“That’s what makes us a really good team,” Bridges said. “Anyone can play, anyone can play hoop. We just feed off each other and we’re all selfless. We play for each other and we find each other.
Chris Paul added 18 points and 16 assists for the Suns. Bridges shot 10 of 15 from the field to help Phoenix match its best start in 45 games. The Suns have opened 36-9 three other times, most recently in the 2006-07 season.
“Bridges really killed us tonight,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “With the way he does things off the ball, he finds the nooks and crannies, he opens up for 3 seconds in the corners. He was terrific.
Phoenix had a 59-54 halftime, then went on an 8-0 run to start the third quarter to take control. The Suns pushed their lead to 20 points late in the third and took a 92-74 lead in the fourth. The Pacers cut it to 105-99 with 3:59 to go but couldn’t close.
“We’re just trying to rack up wins,” Paul said. “We could have been a bit more solid in the final stretch.”
The shorthanded Pacers were coming off impressive back-to-back wins over the Lakers and Warriors, but couldn’t sustain the momentum. Chris Duarte and Lance Stephenson both scored 17 points. Goga Bidatze added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“With the guys we have, we have to be brave, tough and resourceful,” Carlisle said. “That was really how we were in the first and fourth quarters. In the second and third we didn’t play well.
The Suns played some of their basketball for the season, returning to the desert for Saturday’s game after a 5-0 road trip.
Phoenix had a five-point halftime lead after shooting 54.3% in the first half. Paul had 14 points and nine assists, and Bridges added 13 points. Duarte led the Pacers with 11 points.
Biyombo has been an exceptional mid-season addition since signing a 10-day contract on January 1. He was signed for the rest of the season on January 11.
The 6-foot-8 Biyombo is a 10-year veteran and had an immediate impact on the Suns’ rotation, entering Saturday’s game averaging 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He was a force against the Pacers, shooting 9 of 11 from the field and adding five assists.
Suns goaltender Cam Payne and forward Jae Crowder both had to leave the game with wrist injuries.
Payne was injured in a clumsy fall following a first-quarter foul. He was slow to get up and shook his right hand throughout the second quarter but stayed in the game. He didn’t play in the second half, finishing with seven points and three assists.
Crowder was injured in the third quarter after a hard crash following a layup. He held his left wrist and immediately ran to the locker room to have it checked.
For both players, the injury is to their non-firing hand. Phoenix coach Monty Williams said after the game that he had no immediate update on either player.
Pacers: Six players were on the inactive roster, including their top three scorers in F Domantas Sabonis (ankle), F Malcolm Brogdon (sore right Achilles) and G Caris LeVert (sore right calf).
Suns: Starting center Deandre Ayton missed the game with a sprained right ankle. … The Suns hosted a sold-out crowd for the eighth straight game. … Snapped a six-game losing streak at home to the Pacers, beating them at the Footprint Center for the first time since 2014.
Pacers: Travel to face the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday.
Suns: Host the Utah Jazz on Monday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Suggest a fix