New York 108, Indiana 106

INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 20 (AP) -- Not again, the New York Knicks thought as Danny Granger's shot went up.

No way could they possibly lose in the closing seconds for the third straight game.

Finally, luck fell their way. Granger shot an airball on a 3-pointer from the right wing as time expired, and New York held on for a 108-106 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

"I was holding my breath and saying all the Hail Marys and everything I could,'' New York coach Isiah Thomas said. "I knew I couldn't take another heartbreaking loss.''

Two games ago, a dunk by Caron Butler with 2.2 seconds left gave Washington a 99-98 victory. Friday night, a tip-in by Clifford Robinson with 2.8 seconds left gave New Jersey a 101-100 win.

Instead of another loss for the Knicks, it was the fourth straight defeat for the Pacers. Eddy Curry led New York with 26 points on 12-for-14 shooting.

"I just wanted to come out, establish an inside presence early on,'' Curry said. "For the most part, it was a right-on game for me.''

Indiana forward Jermaine O'Neal felt the Pacers didn't make Curry work hard enough.

"We've got to be able to take the ball out of guys' hands,'' O'Neal said. "We can't allow guys to play one-on-one with us at any point.''

Stephon Marbury scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, David Lee had 20 points and 16 rebounds and Quentin Richardson had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks.

New York ruined the debut for the four new Pacers acquired in a trade with Golden State earlier in the week. Mike Dunleavy scored all of his 14 points in the third quarter and Troy Murphy had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers. Ike Diogu did not score in limited minutes and Keith McLeod was inactive with an abdominal strain.

Dunleavy missed his first four shots before hitting a mid-range jumper with 10:48 left in the third quarter.

"I was probably anxious a little bit,'' he said. "I haven't probably felt that way since I was a kid playing rec sports for the first time.''

Dunleavy shot 6-for-11 from the field in the third quarter.

"I just settled down, made some shots and got in the flow,'' he said.

O'Neal led the Pacers with 25 points and 10 rebounds and Granger added 19 points.

O'Neal said he liked the way the new additions played.

"You got a good view of what we're getting back, so it's a positive step toward being really good and being back in the top echelon of our conference,'' he said.

New York led 105-97 when Granger made a 3-pointer with 1:07 remaining. A travel by Malik Rose led to a layup by Granger with 31 seconds left that cut new York's lead to 105-102.

An over-and-back call against Lee gave the Pacers the ball again, and O'Neal scored with 11 seconds left to trim New York's lead to 105-104.

Nate Robinson made two free throws for New York to make it a 107-104 game, but O'Neal scored with 7 seconds left to cut the Knicks' lead to 107-106.

Robinson made the second of two free throws with 6.5 seconds left to bump New York's lead to 108-106 before Granger's 3-pointer missed as time expired.

Thomas was disappointed in the Knicks' ballhandling down the stretch.

"That was very uncharacteristic of us,'' he said. "We didn't do a good job of handling the pressure. We had the wrong people in the wrong places.''

New York nearly bungled a game it led by 15 points in the second half.

"It was evident that we definitely needed this win,'' Richardson said. "I'm just upset with the way we won. But at this point, we'll take any win that we can get.''

Notes: Robinson had averaged 1.0 points and 0.8 assists in five games since returning from a 10-game suspension for his role in the fight with the Denver Nuggets last month. He entered the game averaging 8.7 points and finished with five points on Saturday night. ... Dunleavy started and got a nice reaction from the crowd during pregame introductions. ... Knicks G Steve Francis has been inactive since Dec. 29 with right knee tendinitis.


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