Game Preview: Pacers at Suns

Friday, Jan. 21 at 9:00 PM ET at Footprint Center


The Pacers (23-24) close out a four-game road trip on Saturday night in Phoenix against the Suns (22-24).

Indiana will be on the second half of a back-to-back after falling on Friday night in Denver, 134-111. That was the sixth straight loss for the Blue & Gold, who have struggled since star point guard Tyrese Haliburton suffered knee and elbow injuries on Jan. 11 in New York.

Interior defense was the biggest issue on Friday. Even though the Nuggets did not have MVP center Nikola Jokic, Denver still scored 68 points in the paint and shot 61.4 percent from the field, the best field goal percentage by an Indiana opponent all season.

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle made the decision to move rookie guard Bennedict Mathurin back to the bench on Friday. Mathurin had moved into the starting lineup since Haliburton’s injury, but Carlisle felt he had been more impactful playing with the second unit.

Though the Pacers didn’t get the victory, Mathurin was impactful in Denver, scoring a team-high 19 points and getting to the free throw line 11 times, converting nine. Fellow reserve Chris Duarte also had a strong offensive showing, tallying 18 points while going 5-for-8 from the field and 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.

Though the Suns went to the NBA Finals in 2021 and had the best regular season record in the league last season, they have struggled this year and aren’t even guaranteed to make the play-in tournament, as they are currently tied for 10th in the Western Conference.

Phoenix had dropped nine of its last 10 contests before beating Brooklyn 117-112 on Thursday. The Suns have been decimated by injuries over that span. All-Star guard Devin Booker has been out since hurting his groin on Christmas Day, while legendary point guard Chris Paul has not played since Jan. 6 due to a sore hip. Booker will remain out on Saturday, while Paul (averaging 13.1 points and 8.3 assists per game this season) is listed as questionable.

Without Booker and Paul, the Suns have relied heavily on Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Ayton, the 7-footer who was retained by Phoenix after the franchise matched an offer sheet he signed over the summer with the Pacers in restricted free agency, is averaging 17.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Bridges, a fifth-year forward, is averaging 16 points per game and shooting 39.5 percent from 3-point range, but has topped 20 points in four of his last five contests, including a 28-point, nine-assist performance in Thursday’s win over the net.

Project starters

Pacers: G – Andrew Nembhard, G – Buddy Hield, F – Aaron Nesmith, F – Oshae Brissett, C – Myles Turner

Suns: G – Damion Lee, G – Mikal Bridges, F – Torrey Craig, F – Dario Saric, C – Deandre Ayton

Injury report

Pacers: Kendall Brown – out (right tibia stress reaction), Tyrese Haliburton – out (left knee/elbow sprains), Daniel Theis – out (right knee surgery)

Suns: Chris Paul – questionable (sore right hip), Josh Okogie – questionable (nasal fracture), Devin Booker – out (left groin strain), Cameron Johnson – out (right knee injury management), Cameron Payne – out (right foot sprain ), Landry Shamet – out (sore right foot), Jae Crowder – not with team

last meeting

Jan 22, 2022: The Pacers trimmed what was once a 22-point deficit down to six with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t quite complete the comeback, ultimately falling in Phoenix, 113-103.

Chris Duarte and Lance Stephenson scored 17 points apiece to lead six Pacers in double figures. Goga Bitadze added 16 points and 11 rebounds, Jeremy Lamb scored 14, while Justin Holiday and Oshae Brissett each tallied 10.

Mikal Bridges had a game-high 23 points for Phoenix on 10-of-15 shooting. Bismack Biyombo added 21 points and 13 rebounds off the bench, while Chris Paul tallied 18 points and 16 assists.


  • The Suns have won four of the last five games against the Pacers, including two of the last three meetings in Phoenix.
  • The Pacers are 6-2 on the season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
  • The Pacers acquired Jalen Smith from Phoenix in a trade on Feb. 10, 2022 that sent Torrey Craig to the Suns.
broadcast information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: Bally Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)

Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (studio host)


After a four-game road trip, the Pacers will be back at Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host DeMar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>

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