Pacers 115, Nets 102
Danny Granger and the Indiana Pacers didn't underestimate the New Jersey Nets.
Troy Murphy had 25 points and nine rebounds, and Granger scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, leading the streaking Pacers to a 115-102 victory over the NBA's worst team Saturday night.
``No sympathy,'' Granger said about Nets (12-68). ``It's an NBA game, and they've been playing well themselves.''
Brook Lopez had 20 points, and Yi Jianlian added 18 points and seven rebounds for New Jersey, which had won five of its previous nine games for its best stretch of the season. The Nets were trying to win consecutive games for just the second time.
``We wore out a little bit,'' New Jersey coach Kiki Vandeweghe said. ``The extra effort just wasn't there in the second half.''
The Pacers (32-48), on the other hand, continued their last-season surge. They've won four straight games and 10 of 12. Indiana has been out of the playoff picture for much of the season.
``It just happened a little bit too late,'' Granger said. ``We've shot the ball better, our defense has been a little better. Our offense has really been helping us a lot, even through the rough stretches when our defense was kind of bad.''
The Nets cut it to 90-83 early in the fourth quarter, but Dahntay Jones' 3-point play stopped their momentum. Terrence Williams' layup and free throw cut the deficit back to seven, but the Pacers answered with Jones' jumper and A.J. Price's 3-pointer to take a 100-88 lead with less than 8 minutes left.
``Ball pressure and good defense created good offense for us,'' said Jones, who finished with 18 points. ``Chemistry is better for us now. People are helping each other and playing better together.''
The Nets shot nearly 67 percent from the field in the opening quarter and took a 34-25 lead on Chris Douglas-Robert's layup to end the period. New Jersey extended the advantage to 12 in the second quarter, but the Pacers chipped away and got to 60-56 on Josh McRoberts' dunk.
``I thought the game was lost at the end of the first half,'' Vandeweghe said. ``The last two or three minutes we didn't capitalize and we struggled from there.''
Indiana shot 59 percent in the third quarter and was 4 of 8 from 3-point range to begin to take control. The Pacers tied it at 62 on Granger's layup, and Murphy's jumper late in the period gave Indiana an 88-76 edge.
``We just took it over right there,'' Granger said of the third quarter. ``They had the game pretty much in hand up to that point. Coach (Jim O'Brien) got on us at halftime and we picked up the intensity.''
O'Brien didn't want his team to overlook the Nets.
``I said to our guys, 'They are tasting victory, they are hungry and they have confidence,''' O'Brien said. ``They have solid pieces. I don't think they're far away from being a playoff contender.''
NOTES: Pacers G T.J. Ford (left groin) and F Tyler Hansbrough (ear infection) did not play. ... Nets F Jarvis Hayes (ankle) did not play. .. Indiana swept the season series 4-0. The Pacers won every game by at least eight points. ... Nets G Courtney Lee attended Pike High School in Indianapolis and went to college at Western Kentucky. He finished with 15 points.