Player of the Game
Racked up 33 points, 30 in the first half, on 12-of-18 shooting, including 5-of-8 from the 3-point line, adding seven rebounds and three assists before fouling out.
Stat of the Night
News & Notes
Nov. 18, 2009 at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Pacers stumble down stretch, lose to Knicks
By Conrad Brunner
After Danny Granger scored 20 in the first half Saturday against Boston, the Celtics decided to focus their defense even more sharply on the Pacers' premier scorer and force someone else to beat them. Several someones stepped forward and that's just what the Pacers did.
After Granger scored 30 in the first half Wednesday against New York, the Knicks applied the same strategy. Shut down Granger and dare anyone else to take up the slack. This time, it worked.
With Granger limited to three points in the second half, the Pacers looked lost offensively down the stretch, letting a 13-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate, and with it their five-game winning streak in a 110-103 loss to the Knicks.
"They're going to take the attitude, are all teams against this particular group that we're playing right now, that somebody else is going to have to beat us," said Coach Jim O'Brien. "Against Boston, Dahntay stepped up but we didn't have anybody necessarily step up and fill that role.
"They're draped all over Danny and make it difficult even for him to touch the basketball so somebody else needs to be that scorer and tonight we just didn't get that after they took Danny out of the game."
The Pacers (5-4) led by as many as 19 in the third quarter and were up 97-86 with 5:50 remaining but would manage just two more baskets the rest of the game. Behind Al Harrington, who scored 10 in a row, the Knicks (2-9) put together a 23-3 run to snap their six-game losing streak.
"Danny Granger is their best scorer. He’s a dynamic player, he’s an All-Star, he’s a tremendous inside-outside presence and he is huge for them," said Knicks center David Lee. "Any time we can force other guys to take jump shots, we’ll be happy. And that’s what we did.”
Indiana shot 4-of-16 and committed seven turnovers in the final period.
Granger was visibly frustrated in the locker room afterward.
"Al made some good plays. Our offense got kind of stagnant, and they just outplayed us down the stretch," he said. "We still should have moved the ball and scored. We turned it over too much. We really couldn’t score the ball tonight."
With a home date against LeBron James and the Cavaliers looming Friday, the Pacers hope to learn from this loss.
"It's definitely a learning experience for us as a growing team," said Jones, who scored 25. "We have to close out games better than that. No matter how many games we won in a row, we should have taken advantage of that situation. We’ll look at it, take tomorrow and figure it out, and grow as a team.”
Murphy still out but light on injury horizonTroy Murphy missed his sixth consecutive game with a bruised back and Jeff Foster his seventh in a row with a high ankle sprain, while Mike Dunleavy has yet to play this season while rehabbing from knee surgery. But all three players are making progress, said O'Brien.
"It's nothing I've seen myself but I'm told by the trainer that (Foster) and Murph and Mike had a good workout (before the game)," O'Brien said. "So the fact they're out on the court, it would see all three guys are progressing."
Murphy returned to practice Monday. Dunleavy practiced for the first time last Friday. And rookie Tyler Hansbrough, who had been limited to no more than 16 minutes in his first four games, had his playing time increased to more than 20 minutes against the Knicks.
The one player whose status remains cloudy is Travis Diener, who has been in uniform and occasionally available but has not played due to recurring problems with the big toe on his left foot.
"At this point in time," O'Brien said, "he's not capable of playing."