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Pacers rule the road with third win on trip

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- It wasn't the prettiest win during Indiana's latest run, but the Pacers will take it.

Paul George scored 25 points and Roy Hibbert had 12 of his 20 points in the first quarter as the Indiana Pacers beat back a fourth-quarter rally for a 112-104 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.

"Sometimes, you just gotta win," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "It's not always going to be a 25-point road win. Any win on the road is a good win, and I'm happy to get out of here with a win."

George Hill added 15 points and David West and Lance Stephenson had 14 each for the Pacers, who won their fourth straight and seventh in the past eight games to push past the New York Knicks into second place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

With wins in Houston, Dallas and Phoenix, Indiana can sweep a four-game road trip with a victory in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Monday.

"We stuck together, made some huge defensive stops and that's really been the key to the success on this trip," George said. "Whether we're up or down, we tend to stay together. We really have the DNA and makeup to really make a great run. We're big inside, we've got guys who can create shots and our defense is amazing.

"If we continue to play at this tempo and stay consistent defensively, we should be alright."

Goran Dragic had 21 points and nine assists and Markieff Morris added 18 for the Suns, who battled all night but lost their sixth straight and 10th in the past 11 overall. They have lost five straight at US Airways Center for the first time in nine years.

"There are no moral victories, but when you are traveling down the road we're traveling you have to get small victories out of the tough times," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said. "That is a championship-caliber team over there and I think we fought them toe to toe right up into the end."

With the Suns down 97-87 with 6:49 to play, Dragic had seven points during an 11-2 Phoenix run and followed a Jermaine O'Neal dunk with a lay-in to pull the Suns to 99-98 with 3:43 left.

"We moved the ball well, we got open shots ... we did everything, but in the end you have to defend," said Dragic, who was back in the lineup after resting for two games.

The Pacers put the game away with seven straight points. West started the run with two free throws and ended it with a 15-footer to make it 109-101 Indiana with 34.6 seconds left.

"We knew we were playing against a hungry team and we've learned from out losses in the past," Hibbert said. "We're a team that's filled with leaders. Paul took over at moments. David came in and closed the game out. George made some spectacular plays and Lance is our bulldog. We closed the game strong."

The Suns led by as many as six points early on, with P.J. Tucker scoring seven of Phoenix's first 15 points. But the Pacers reeled off 12 straight points during the middle of the quarter and Hibbert had 12 first-quarter points -- despite missing four free throws -- as the Pacers outscored the Suns 16-4 in the paint and took a 27-21 lead.

Stephenson had all 11 of his first-half points in the second quarter as Indiana held a 57-49 lead at intermission.

Phoenix pulled to 64-63 on two Morris free throws four minutes into the third quarter. Morris and Scola each had eight points in the quarter for the Suns. But the Pacers answered with an 18-8 run, and D.J. Augustine followed a 21-footer with two free throws to give Indiana its biggest lead of the night at 82-71.

NOTES: The game featured a rare matchup of brothers on both sides with Markieff and Marcus Morris of Phoenix facing Tyler and Ben Hansbrough of Indiana. Ben Hansbrough didn't play, ruining what would have been an NBA first with both sets of brothers taking part in the same game. ... The last time the Suns lost five straight home games was March 6 through March 19, 2004, the year before Steve Nash returned to Phoenix to lead a run of three trips to the Western Conference Finals. ... The Suns are now 2-11 since Marcin Gortat went down with his right foot injury. ... Kendall Marshall had 13 and 10 assists in his last two games, the first Suns rookie to record consecutive double-digit assist games in 25 years -- since Kevin Johnson in 1988.
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