Indiana 113, Atlanta 90

INDIANAPOLIS, March 17 (AP) -- The losing streak is over. Now, the Indiana Pacers are willing to talk playoffs again.

The Pacers snapped their 11-game skid with a resounding 113-90 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

Another loss for the Pacers would have tied a franchise record for consecutive defeats last reached in the 1988-89 season. As the streak progressed, the players wouldn't even mention the playoffs, saying they needed to get a win first. The Pacers are fighting with Orlando and New York for the seventh and eighth playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

"We're in position where every game is a must-win,'' forward Jermaine O'Neal said. "Every game has become critical to our team because we've allowed other teams to get back into the playoff race.

"It's one day,'' he said. "It means we got a win, and we're one step closer to getting back on pace with what we originally set out to do.''

Troy Murphy scored 22 points and Mike Dunleavy added 21 for the Pacers. Danny Granger scored 19 points and Ike Diogu 15.

Point guard Jamaal Tinsley had 14 assists and no turnovers for Indiana.

"We defended well and put ourselves in position to get easy buckets in transition,'' Tinsley said. "In the halfcourt set, we ran our offense great. I put myself in position to make plays without making risky passes.''

O'Neal said Tinsley's effort was an example of how the Pacers can avoid another losing streak.

"We need him to do that,'' O'Neal said. "We need everybody to step up and do their job, whatever their job is. We need everybody to help the next guy. We have guys that can play, but we don't have the best talent in the league, so we have to have guys who help each other at every position.''

O'Neal, the team's top scorer, hit 2 of 12 shots and finished with 10 points.

Josh Smith had 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks and Zaza Pachulia added 16 points for the Hawks.

The Pacers hadn't won since a home victory over Milwaukee on Feb. 21, but they put up their largest victory margin since a 101-69 win over Portland on Feb. 8, 2006. Their biggest victory this season had been by 19 points, a 91-72 win over the Hawks on Jan. 9.

"I think we really needed a game where we came out here and hit shots and had an easy win,'' Murphy said. "We needed to win, and we needed to win this way.''

The Hawks had won their first four games without All-Star Joe Johnson, but now they've lost their past two by a combined 45 points.

"We struggled from beginning to end,'' Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "If you're struggling defensively, you'd better hope the other team does too. You can't beat a team if you don't have some sort of defensive presence. The Pacers had their way the entire night.''

It was clear from the start that things would be different for Indiana on Saturday. The Pacers ran out to a 9-1 lead and extended it to 36-23 at the end of the first quarter. The Pacers shot 68.4 percent in the opening period and 53 percent for the game.

"The key was how we started,'' Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "I told the guys to view this as an opportunity and not a burden. Tonight is a big step in the right direction.''

The Pacers, who have let big leads slip away this season, kept the pressure on. Indiana produced its highest-scoring first half of the season, and led 68-44 at the break.

Atlanta scored the first nine points of the second half to cut Indiana's lead to 68-53. Indiana didn't score in the second half before Granger hit a jumper with 7:24 left in the third quarter.

Then the Pacers got hot again. A basket and a 3-point play by Murphy keyed a 12-2 run that put Indiana up 82-57. The Pacers led 84-65 at the end of the third quarter, then started the fourth quarter on an 11-2 run to put the game out of reach.

"Just to kind of step on them and keep them down the entire game felt really good,'' Murphy said.

Notes: Atlanta G Anthony Johnson was cheered when he was announced as a starter during pregame introductions. Indiana traded him after last season. Johnson did not score, and had four assists in 23 minutes. ... Indiana G/F Marquis Daniels missed his eighth straight game with a sore left knee.

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