|GAME REWIND||QUOTES & NOTES||PHOTO GALLERY||BOX SCORE||PLUS-MINUS||CHAT REPLAY||FAN FORUM|
By John Oehser, NBA.com
THE FACTS: Mike Dunleavy, snapping an early-season shooting slump, scored 24 points in a record-setting third quarter for the Indiana Pacers, who went 20-for-21 from the field in the period en route to a 144-113 victory over the Denver Nuggets at Conseco Fieldhouse on Tuesday.
QUOTABLE: "That was as much fun as you can have on a basketball court." -- Pacers coach Jim O'Brien
THE STAT: Indiana set a franchise record with 54 third-quarter points, but that only starts to explain the Pacers' period. They shot 95.2 percent from the field, with a missed 3-pointer by forward Josh McRoberts with three seconds remaining the lone miss. And it wasn't as if Indiana was shooting layups. They were 8-for-9 on 3-pointers, and Dunleavy went 7-for-7 from the field -- 5-for-5 from 3-point range. Indiana had 17 assists in the period and missed three times as many free throws -- three -- as they did field goals. During the period, Indiana stretched a 10-point halftime lead to 113-76. The 54 points wers the most in a quarter in franchise history and tied for the fourth-highest in any quarter in NBA history.
TURNING POINT: The Pacers never trailed en route to evening their record at 3-3 -- and the third quarter was about as one-sided as a game can get -- but Indiana truly began to take control in the second quarter. Center Roy Hibbert and Dunleavy began to get hot in the period, each scoring seven points, and the Pacers outrebounded the already-listless Nuggets 16-7 to take a 59-49 halftime lead.
QUOTABLE II: "I didn't know. I would have tried to pump-fake it a few more times, and maybe pass it to Mike. It's a good record to screw up, I guess." -- McRoberts on his miss at the end of the third quarter
HOT: Dunleavy entered the game in a shooting slump, but O'Brien said beforehand the veteran guard wasn't taking bad shots -- he was just off, and O'Brien expressed confidence that would change. In the second and third quarters Tuesday, it did, with Dunleavy -- after going 0-for-3 in the first quarter -- making nine of 10 field goals during the stretch. He finished 9-for-13 for 31 points. His six 3-pointers tied a career-high.
NOT: Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony was 5-for-15 from the field and finished with 13 points.
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Point guard Darren Collison was critical to the Pacers' taking control early. O'Brien said before the game that Collison is very much still getting used to the tempo the Pacers want offensively, and Collison scored 15 first-half points. He was 7-for-8 from the field in the first half and finished with 29 points and six assists.
INSIDE THE ARENA: Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee attended the game.
ROOKIE WATCH: Nuggets rookie Gary Forbes helped keep the Nuggets somewhat close early. He was 3-for-6 in the first half -- 2-for2 from 3-point range -- and had nine of his 16 points in the first two quarters.
NOTABLE: Brandon Rush made his first appearance of the season after a five-game, league-mandated suspension. The Pacers forward scored 16 points and had seven rebounds. ... The Pacers' 16 3-point field goals were one shy of the franchise record set in March against Utah. ... Indiana shot 64.4 percent from the field, highest in the NBA this season. ... The Pacers' 85 points in the second half were a franchise record. ... Pacers second-year forward Tyler Hansbrough scored 20 points, one shy of a career-high for the 2009 first-round draft selection.
UP NEXT: For the Pacers, Friday vs. Rockets, Saturday vs. Cavaliers, Tuesday vs. Hawks. For the Nuggets, Thursday vs. Lakers, Monday @ Suns, Tuesday vs. Knicks. NuggetsPacers
He didn't know.
When Josh McRoberts pulled up for that final shot of the third quarter, a 3-pointer that banged off the iron with 1.9 seconds left, he was unaware he had just become the Bill Buckner of Tuesday night.
Until that point, the Pacers were perfect, hitting all 20 of their shots – including eight 3-pointers – in rolling up a franchise-record 54 points in one of the most prolific periods in NBA history. Even so, their 20-of-21 shooting percentage of .952 will very likely turn out to be a league record, once the databases of the Elias Sports Bureau have been scoured and we find out officially.
With Mike Dunleavy scoring 24 of his 31 points in that outburst, the Pacers rolled to a 144-113 rout of the Denver Nuggets before 11,122 in Conseco Fieldhouse.
McRoberts said his teammates informed him of his streak-buster when he came to the bench at the end of the period.
"I would've pump-faked a few more times or maybe tried to pass it to Mike (Dunleavy)," he said, smiling. "It's a good record to screw up, I guess."
There was little to foretell what was coming; in fact, the first half ended ominously when Denver scored the final five points to cut a lead that had been as large as 18 to 59-49 at the break.
But the Pacers couldn't miss in the third and blew it open with 11 in a row in a span of 2 minutes, including consecutive 3-pointers from Dunleavy, Darren Collison and Danny Granger, pushing the lead to 85-61.
From there, the countdown – or countup – was on. Dunleavy made five 3-pointers in the streak, which reached 20 on Brandon Rush's 3-pointer with 27.9 seconds left. The Pacers got the ball back after a pair of Arron Afflalo free throws with 22 seconds left.
Even with McRoberts' miss, it was an epic performance. Almost as impressive as the hot shooting was the team's 17 assists against just one turnover.
In addition to establishing a franchise record for points in a quarter, the Pacers:
- Tied the second-most points in NBA history in the third period;
- Tied the fourth-most points in NBA history in any period (the all-time high is 58 by the Buffalo Braaves in the fourth quarter against Boston on Oct. 20, 1972);
- Almost certainly set an NBA record for field goal accuracy in one period, and possibly for consecutive field goals made.
They also set a franchise record with 85 points in the second half and their final point total was the Pacers' most since scoring 145 against – you guessed it – Denver in 1991.
"That's as much fun as you can have on a basketball court," said Coach Jim O'Brien.
Dunleavy had been slumping so badly, O'Brien had considered replacing him in the starting lineup with Brandon Rush, who returned from a five-game NBA suspension and played well (16 points, seven rebounds). But Dunleavy not only kept his job, he cemented his grip.
"I knew my shots would eventually fall," Dunleavy said. "I just had to keep shooting and tried to get in the rhythm. It was contagious when I began to hit everybody did. In general we were due. We just had to break out. And tonight we did and we won big. "
The Nuggets (4-4), playing their fourth game in five nights, were shell-shocked.
"Dunleavy … I don’t know how many threes he hit in a row but it was like the old NBA Jam (video game)," said Ty Lawson. "He had the hot button."
He wasn't alone.
Collison scored 29 points on 12-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-5 from the 3-point line. Tyler Hansbrough was 9-of-12 for 20 points (and nine rebounds). Granger hit 8-of-10 for 19 points. Roy Hibbert had 17.
The Pacers shot 64.4 percent from the field, made 16-of-30 (.533) from the 3-point line, and racked up 37 assists.
"That was something," said O'Brien. "That’s a quarter of basketball that will be remembered for a long time."