Indiana 105, Portland 97

PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 28 (AP)-- Indiana coach Rick Carlisle sent Danny Granger to the bench, and Granger responded with his best scoring game of the season.

The second-year player from New Mexico scored 21 points as the Pacers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 105-97 Tuesday night.

Zach Randolph had 30 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who lost for the eighth time in the last 10 games. Jarrett Jack added a career-high 21 points and six assists.

Jermaine O'Neal had 20 points, eight rebounds and five blocks for the Pacers. Reserve Sarunas Jasikevicius had 17 points and seven assists, combining with Granger for 38 of the 48 points off the bench.

Granger had started the previous 14 games this season, but moved to the bench as Carlisle tried to shake up a lineup that shot a season-low 37 percent from the field in a loss to Toronto on Sunday.

``Going back to the bench isn't a problem for me,'' Granger said. ``I knew the game was back and forth and we needed a push in the fourth quarter. When I come in, I'm always looking for my shot. I was definitely looking for it in the fourth quarter. I came in and we went on an 11-2 run.''

The worst shooting team in league at 41.9 percent entering the game, the Pacers moved the ball around and got good looks, shooting 52.1 percent from the field, their second-best performance of the season. Indiana had a season-high 23 assists and had five double-digit scorers.

Granger had twice scored 18 points, including Sunday. But off the bench, he gave Indiana a punch it had been lacking, scoring seven points in the final quarter.

``He came in and made some huge shots and got some big-time rebounds for us,'' O'Neal said.

Al Harrington, Indiana's leading scorer, had 17 points to rebound from four poor games, where he had averaged just 8.0 points and was shooting 29 percent. He was 7-of-12 from the field and had five rebounds.

Indiana pulled away for the final time in the fourth, building a nine-point lead after Jasikevicius hit a 3-pointer with 3:42 left to make it 96-85. Portland was trailing by seven when Juan Dixon stole the ball, then inexplicably tried to bounce it out of bounds off Darrell Armstrong. The ball ricocheted right to Granger, who made a layup and a free throw for a three-point play.

Randolph showed no signs of the knee soreness that forced him from the game Sunday night. He took 27 shots, many from the outside, but also faced up defender Jeff Foster and drove him to the hoop.

The Pacers opened a quick 10-3 lead, but Portland took a 24-21 advantage at the end of the first quarter, the 12th time in 15 games this season that Indiana has trailed after the opening period.

The Pacers rallied with a 30-point second quarter and had Harrington (10), O'Neal (11) and Granger (12) in double figures at the half. Jackson knocked down two free throws just before the break and Indiana led 51-46.

The Pacers were up 61-50, but the Blazers began chipping away, going on an 13-3 run that Randolph capped with a jumper with 4:47 remaining in the third. Indiana scored 30 points again in the fourth quarter to pull away.

``We didn't execute down the stretch,'' Jack said. We can't give up 30 points (in a quarter) like we did.''

Travis Outlaw and Dixon each had 12 points for Portland. Stephen Jackson had 15 for the Pacers.

Notes: O'Neal left the game with 5:22 left in the third, hobbling into the locker room with a sprained ankle. He returned at the start of the fourth quarter and played the rest of the game. ... C Joel Przybilla returned for the Blazers, playing in his first game since getting kneed in the groin in the second game of the season. He finished with two points and 10 rebounds. ... The Pacers have won the last six games in the series. ... Indiana has three games left on a six-game road trip, the longest this season.

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