Preview: Indiana Pacers (9-8) at Phoenix Suns (9-9)

Phoenix Suns 105, Indiana Pacers 97


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The last time Indiana traveled to Phoenix, things got a little feisty.

In early March of last season, Channing Frye and Earl Watson got into an on-court skirmish that led to Frye and Danny Granger being suspended for a game apiece when Granger came in with a push.

The fight started when Watson shoved Frye in the middle of a play. When the Suns’ center retaliated by mushing, as he put it back then, Granger stepped in and things escalated from there.

When the dust settled, five players were either suspended or fined for their involvement.

Granger, however, was not ejected from the game and the crowd in US Airways Center booed him every time he touched the ball.

It will be interesting to see if the fans at tonight’s game remember the incident and continue anti-Granger cheers.

But I digress.

Since the 2006-07 season, the Indiana Pacers have failed to win over 36 games in a year.

That’s probably going to change in 2010-11.

The incredibly young Pacers are a solid basketball team.

Labeled up-and-coming by many, the Pacers ran off back-to-back wins over the Lakers and Kings before running out of gas Wednesday in Utah, losing 110-88.

Now the school bus will drive into Phoenix for a matchup of teams that have hovered around .500 throughout the early part of the season.

The Suns are coming off an impressive rebounding performance and win last night over Golden State.

Yes, Phoenix will be playing the second half of a back-to-back tonight, but for Indiana, this will be its fourth game this week, all of which being played on the West Coast.

The Pacers are led by the All-Star forward Granger, who is scoring over 22 points per game this season.

But where Indiana has improved the most in, is its offensive balance.

Five Pacers average in the double digits, with many others contributing off the bench.

Second year player out of Georgetown Roy Hibbert has also come on strong in his sophomore season.

The center is averaging close to a double-double per outing and it will be a tall task for Phoenix to control him on the boards.

The Suns, after a brutal stretch to start their season, are now poised to get a break in the schedule over the next few weeks.

It will be important for the team to accumulate wins before the schedule heats back up again in the back end of December.

Last night while providing the offensive fireworks for Phoenix against his former team, Jason Richardson also put in an improved defensive effort.

“He has been solid for us and shooting the ball great,” Suns coach Alvin Genty told  “He has really worked hard on defense and as I said last year, he had his best year as a pro. He was great in the playoffs, but his defense has improved dramatically. Plus, he plays well when he comes back [to Golden State], which is nice.”

The guard is now averaging over 21 points per game this year.

Phoenix has won eight of the last 10 meetings between the the two teams but in each of the last two years, they split the season series.

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Tags: Channing Frye Jason Richardson

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