Player of the Game
Wound up one point shy of his career high with 25 points, making 7-of-15 from the field and 11-of-15 from the line, adding four rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot.
Stat of the Night
News & Notes
Nov. 14, 2009 at Conseco Fieldhouse
Granger, Jones spark 4th straight win
By Conrad Brunner
When Boston pushed, the Pacers pushed back.
Ultimately, it was the mighty Celtics that lost their balance.
Hanging tough in the face of every challenge, the Pacers controlled much of the second half and rallied for an impressive 113-104 victory over Boston before a sellout crowd of 18,165 Saturday in Conseco Fieldhouse.
Danny Granger scored 29 and Dahntay Jones 25 – one short of his career-high – to spark a balanced offensive attack that featured six players in double figures. The defense held the Celtics to 43 points and .412 shooting in the second half.
“That was terrific basketball game by our players and a great house here at Conseco (Fieldhouse)," said Coach Jim O'Brien. "We really appreciate the support and everybody can see this team works its tail off. We did the tough things down the stretch to get stops."
Granger scored 20 in the first half and though the Pacers trailed 61-52 at the break, they had been successful in keeping the tempo of the game high and their fouls low. With Boston an aging team coming off a 97-86 loss to Atlanta Friday night, the Pacers wanted to use their depth, athleticism and energy to wear down the visitors.
The strategy gained traction in the second half when the Pacers simply kept coming, challenging the Celtics at both ends of the floor while the visitors unraveled, picking up three technical fouls in the game, two in the fourth quarter.
"This is huge for us," said Granger. "Usually when teams of that caliber lose they come back really ready to play in the next game and we still beat them. …
"We kept fighting back. We kept our composure down the stretch and got the win."
Jones was the driving force offensively in the second half, scoring 18, including 12 in the fourth quarter. But a number of players contributed in big ways.
Brandon Rush hit consecutive jumpers to close the third quarter, sending the Pacers into the fourth with an 84-79 lead. Roy Hibbert had two huge buckets down the stretch and played tough defense against Kevin Garnett. Earl Watson ran the point fearlessly and T.J. Ford provided a big lift off the bench despite a sore back.
"We’re excited," said Hibbert. "We are really maturing as a team and hope to build on our success. We’ve just got to stay focused. We need to keep trying to get to know each other better."
The Pacers (4-3) play two more teams with losing records (the Nets and Knicks) before another marquee matchup next Friday against the Cavs in Conseco Fieldhouse. After an 0-3 start, suddenly they're one of the hottest teams in the league.
"We had beaten three teams that were struggling and we needed to get a win against a quality opponent," said O'Brien, "and the Celtics are every definition of a quality opponent."
The Pacers put the game away with a 14-4 run that took a 93-92 lead and extended it to 107-96, a methodical unraveling of the Celtics.
"Danny Granger getting 29 points, you live with that. The other guys hit crucial shots at the end," said Kendrick Perkins. "They had more energy. Their transition defense was incredible at times. At the end of the day they just played harder."
Bird, O'Brien address Daniels' departureSince the Pacers could not afford to keep Marquis Daniels, both Larry Bird and O'Brien said they're happy the former Pacers swingman wound up signing with the Celtics, where he'll have a chance to compete for a championship this season.
"We know Marquis Daniels, he's going to be a major plus for them if he stays healthy down the stretch," said Bird. "I talked to Danny (Ainge) about Marquis and I said, 'If you can get him, you better get him' because he'll make another bench player that can get a lot of things done for them. They're very talented and they're going to win a lot of games."
O'Brien said he missed Daniels' presence in the locker room as well as his versatility on the court but the Pacers simply could not afford to pick up his option, which reportedly exceeded $7 million.
"It was too much money for our budget. We loved him and would've loved to have had him back but the number was just too rich for us," said O'Brien. " … We understood him wanting to play for an organization like the Celtics, who are challengers, and my guess is Marquis has good feelings about what went on here. It was just a business deal on both sides."
Daniels signed a one-year deal for the $1.9 million bi-annual exception with the Celtics.
"If we knew he was going to play for a million-seven, a million-eight, we'd have liked to keep him," said Bird with a laugh, "but obviously he did that for a reason."
O'Brien "holding breath" on Dunleavy's comebackThough Mike Dunleavy's knee responded well to his first day of practice Friday, O'Brien said "everyone's holding their breath every time he's out on the court."
"It's tough to coach when you're holding your breath," he added. "You want so badly for him, he's worked so hard in rehabbing after the surgery. He loves the game of basketball and to see him – forget about our need for him – it's just heartbreaking to see anybody that passionate about the game to be on the shelf."
Dunleavy's next opportunity for practice will come Monday in Conseco Fieldhouse.