Pacers beat Suns in veteran fashion

Paul George scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the Indiana Pacers’ 109-94 victory over the host Phoenix Suns Wednesday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

His frontcourt mate, Myles Turner, added 20 points, four rebounds, and a pair of blocks while first-year Pacer Jeff Teague contributed 19 points, a season-high 11 assists, five rebounds, and two steals.

Without knowing the final score, the individual numbers are soothing. It’s what Pacers head coach Nate McMillan wants to see and could get used to as the season progresses. The team stats are nice, also — 94 points allowed, 31 points from the second unit and 32-41 (78 percent) from the charity stripe.

Darn good, and enough to even up their record on this West Coast road trip at 2-2 with one to play.

Numbers aside, these are the performances the Pacers envisioned whilst forming the current roster. A win captured by the superstar in George and a supporting cast consisting of the up-and-coming big man in Turner, a superior point guard in Teague and a group of veterans rounding out the rotation.

All of this is pieced together to mold a unit that would score more points to the liking of team president Larry Bird and continue its recent history of stellar defense, pleasing the defensive-minded, and longtime assistant coach Dan Burke.

As an aside, there was a reason Bird tabbed Burke as his primary target this past offseason, in hope of retaining the veteran assistant coach following the departure of former head coach Frank Vogel. Wednesday’s victory was a clear picture of Bird’s reasoning.

[Larry Bird, prior to the season, on his hope for the year and integrating many new faces]

Al Jefferson and Rodney Stuckey combined to pour in 27 of the 31 points off the bench for Indiana, with 15 and 12, respectively. The duo shot 62.5 percent from the field, hauled in nine rebounds, and didn’t commit a single turnover in 44 minutes of action.

As a team, the Pacers slowed the Suns to the tune of 40 percent shooting from the floor, including 27 percent from beyond the three-point arc, and forcing Phoenix into 19 turnovers. Possibly most comforting of all, the Pacers held the Suns to just 14 points in the fourth period, finishing strong and showing the ability to close out an opponent for their third victory on the road this season.

It was the type of win you’d expect from a group comprised of guys that, for the most part, have been around the block a time or two and know darn well how to grab a victory when it’s at their fingertips, despite the Suns’ 6-16 record.

The blue and gold have an opportunity to head home with a winning record as they turn their attention to the struggling Dallas Mavericks on Friday to close out their western trip. At stake is a chance to forge ahead the .500 mark for the first time this season. The level of chemistry being materialized now may serve this bunch well moving forward.

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