Suns beat Pacers in game marred by 2 fights

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PHOENIX (AP)—Tempers flared and punches were thrown.

The Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers got into it Saturday night on the court, and kept yapping after the game.

Amare Stoudemire scored 30 points for the third consecutive game and the Suns beat the Pacers 113-105 for the 1,900th victory in franchise history in a game marred by two fights and eight technical fouls.

“We have the reputation of being soft,” Indiana’s Earl Watson(notes) said, “but we’re not going to give in to anybody.”

Things got heated with 46.7 seconds remaining in the third period when Watson appeared to push the Suns’ Channing Frye(notes). Indiana’s Danny Granger(notes) then took a swipe at Frye, who swung back. The Pacers’ Roy Hibbert(notes) and the Suns’ Jason Richardson(notes) joined in, and both were hit with technicals, along with Granger. Frye was assessed two technical fouls, an automatic ejection.

For the remainder of the game, Granger was booed unmercifully every time he touched the ball.

“I was just setting a screen for Steve (Nash), and Earl swatted my hands away the first time and that wasn’t a big deal,” Frye said. “And the second time, I don’t think it was the right play. I want to emphasize it’s not my style of play to be pushing people and doing things like that. But I think at a certain point, you’ve got to protect yourself.

“I wasn’t going to punch him. It wasn’t about me punching. It wasn’t the right play, but it was me just letting him know I didn’t think that was acceptable.”

Granger said the Suns “were playing dirty.”

“I told my teammates to watch and see what happens,” he said. “We’ve got to stick up for each other and play as a team. One of their guys took a cheap shot at my teammate.”

Watson blamed Frye for the melee.

“The first time he dunked, he hit with his elbow,” Watson said. “Then he put his hands on me. I told him to put his hands down. He pushed me and it escalated after that point.”

Watson also was the center of attention in the teams’ first meeting this season, when he bloodied Nash’s face with an elbow. Nash required several stitches.

“Channing had to defend himself,” Richardson said. “That’s what happens when tempers flare. That’s something that happens in basketball.”

Hibbert, of course, supported his teammates.

“We had each other’s back out there,” Hibbert said. “Whatever happened in that little skirmish, we want to protect each other.”

Things also got testy midway through the second period when Indiana’s Josh McRoberts(notes) and Phoenix’s Louis Amundson(notes) scuffled. Both received technicals.

Early in the fourth quarter, Indiana coach Jim O’Brien was hit with a technical for arguing with officials.

Grant Hill(notes) added 22 points for the Suns, Richardson had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Jared Dudley(notes) also had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Granger led the Pacers with 24 points, Hibbert scored 22, including 12 for 12 from the foul line, and Troy Murphy(notes) had 19 points and 16 rebounds.

The loss was the Pacers’ seventh in eight games and sixth in a row on the road. They now are 5-21 against Western Conference teams.

The game started with poor shooting as the Suns began 5 for 15 and the Pacers 4 for 20. After that, the Suns’ marksmanship improved dramatically and finished the half at 52.6 percent (20 for 38) with a 63-57 lead, while Indiana wound up at 34.7 percent (17 for 49).

The Pacers cut into a 12-point deficit at 63-51 with 3-pointers by Granger and Watson, who stole an inbounds pass from Amundson, in the final 2.8 seconds.

Indiana stayed close with the aid of its offensive rebounding. The Pacers had 24 second-chance points off 10 offensive boards.

Stoudemire had 17 points at the half, including nine straight during a two-minute span late in the second quarter.

NOTES: The Pacers were without two of their big men: Jeff Foster(notes) (sore lower back) and Tyler Hansbrough(notes) (inner ear infection), while the Suns were missing their top two backup guards: Goran Dragic(notes) (right ankle sprain) and Leandro Barbosa(notes) (right wrist surgery). … Indiana’s Mike Dunleavy left midway through the third period with a bruised chest. … After facing the Pacers, the Suns will not play until Friday, a rare five-day break at this time of the season. … The Pacers have used 22 starting lineups this season.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Indiana
T. Murphy Troy Murphy
8-18,  19 Pts
16 Rebs, 1 Assists
 Phoenix
G. Hill Grant Hill
6-9,  22 Pts
8 Rebs, 5 Assists

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Saturday, Mar 6