“Just as a point guard, he’s setting us up, he’s getting us into our offense,” Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano said.
The Suns have received solid recent contributions from second-year forward Dragan Bender, who has received more than 30 minutes in each of the last two games because of a hip injury to starter Marquese Chriss.
The Suns (16-27) will look to bounce back from a 112-95 trouncing by the Houston Rockets, who rolled to a victory on Friday despite James Harden’s continued absence.
Bender, who at 7-foot-1 is comfortable on the perimeter, has 34 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and five steals in the last two games while making 9 of 14 3-point attempts. Chriss is not expected to play against Indiana, and reserve small forward Josh Jackson (hip) is questionable.
Stephenson also baited James into a retaliatory shove that resulted in a technical foul with 7:53 remaining. Stephenson instigated the action when he thumbed James in the side.
Darren Collison had 22 points, Victor Oladipo had 19, Lance Stephenson had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Damontas Sabonis had 15 rebounds, one short of his career high.
The Suns’ Devin Booker has taken his game up another notch this season, averaging 24.9 points after a 27-point, nine-assist game against the Rockets on Friday. Booker’s nine assists were one short of a season high as his role as a facilitator/scorer continues to grow.
The Pacers overcame a 22-point deficit in their 97-95 victory over Cleveland, handing the Cavaliers their third straight loss.