Indiana 112, New York 96

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The way Danny Granger and his teammates were shooting, Indiana didn't need to force the ball inside.

Granger scored a career-high 25 points and the Pacers hit a season-high 12 3-pointers in a 112-96 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night.

``I had it going early in the first half. My team kept finding me, and I kept knocking down shots,'' Granger said.

The Pacers were 12-of-23 from long range, including three each for Granger, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington. The second of two 3-pointers by Darrell Armstrong, the final basket of the third quarter, was the Pacers' 12th of the game from behind the arc, topping the previous season high of 11 at Milwaukee last month.

Indiana finished the third period with a 12-3 run for a 92-68 lead, widened the margin to 26 early in the fourth and never led by fewer than 15 the rest of the way.

``I just worked a lot on it in the offseason. That was one of my goals,'' Granger said of his 3-point shooting. ``I try not to think about it too much. I just say if I'm open, I'm going to shoot it. If I don't make it, I don't make it.''

Granger, whose previous high was 23 points against Sacramento last season as a rookie and had 21 points twice this season, hit 3-of-4 3-pointers, all in the first half. He was 8-of-10 overall from the field and made all six of his free throw attempts. He added five rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench.

``Granger played a solid game. His 3s were the key in the first half,'' Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. ``If they're not going down, it's a lot different game. But shotmaking can cover a multitude of problems. We were fortunate it was there.''

Jackson added 19 points, Harrington finished with 17, and Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley had 11 apiece for the Pacers. Jamal Crawford led New York with 29 points.

``We have a lot of guys that can really carry the team,'' O'Neal said. ``Instead of everybody trying to carry the team, we need to ride the hot horse. Tonight, it was Danny Granger. I thought he did a great job on setting the tone. We kept feeding him, trying to find him. Then the rest of the guys just filled in.''

Granger, who had 21 points Monday night in a loss at Chicago, matched that late in the second quarter, when the Pacers turned a seven-point deficit into leads up to 18 points.

``We had a lot of our second-group guys in,'' Carlisle said. ``We stuck with them and they dug us out and got us the lead. From there, we were OK.''

Granger started Indiana's comeback with two 3-pointers in the closing minutes of the first quarter. He added 15 points in the second period, and consecutive 3-pointers by Harrington, Armstrong and Granger put the Pacers up 38-33 midway through the quarter.

Indiana never trailed after that.

``We didn't do a good job keeping the ball in front of us,'' Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. ``We were running by shooters. They would dribble around us, get into the teeth of the zone and were able to kick out and consequently make wide-open 3s.''

A 3-pointer by Jackson with 10 seconds left gave the Pacers their biggest lead in the first half before Crawford's third 3-pointer with just over a second remaining made it 64-49 at the break.

``We kind of got out of our tempo in the second quarter and they took control of the game,'' Crawford said. ``He (Granger) was finding open spots in the zone and was knocking the shots down tonight. He did a good job.''

Crawford had 12 points in the first quarter, when the Knicks led 24-22 after three ties and nine lead changes. New York took its biggest lead at 29-22 in the opening minute of the second quarter on a basket and free throw by Eddy Curry and a steal and fast-break dunk by Crawford.

Granger then scored on a lob pass from Sarunas Jasikevicius, was fouled by Knicks rookie Renaldo Balkman and hit the free throw, starting a 20-6 run that broke the game open.

``Everybody has been shooting the 3-ball pretty well,'' said Jackson, who made 3-of-6 3-pointers. ``So when teams get in the zone, we have to go ahead and shoot some 3s and knock them down. I think we've been doing that real good for the most part.''

Notes: Thomas, at Conseco Fieldhouse as coach for the first time since he was fired by Pacers president Larry Bird in 2003, received scattered boos during team introductions. ... New York's Steve Francis missed his fourth straight game with tendinitis in his right knee. Quentin Richardson left in the first quarter with back spasms. ... The 38-year-old Armstrong is the third-oldest player in the NBA. ... The Pacers' 12 3-pointers were two short of the franchise-record 14 made four times, most recently in 2002.

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