Pacers 93, Nets 88

Danny Granger was definitely playing Thursday night – gimpy

ankle and all.

The way he saw it, there was no choice.

The Pacers’ leading scorer ignored a painful sprained left ankle

and scored 32 points to lead Indiana past the struggling New Jersey

Nets 93-88, a win Granger and his teammates desperately needed to

right themselves.

”It’s been a lot of icing, a lot of pain medication,” Granger

said after producing his second-highest points total of the season.

”I knew I had to play tonight. We had lost five in a row, we had

to get off it tonight.”

Granger made sure the Pacers (18-12) put an end to this dubious,

season-long losing streak once and for all.

Yes, there were questions about how long Granger could play and

how effective he would be after missing seven straight quarters

since landing awkwardly on his foot Tuesday against Miami. When the

Pacers forward arrived at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, he was still

listed as day-to-day.

But Granger knew better, and it didn’t take him long to prove he

could overcome the pain.

He made 10 of 20 shots, eight of nine from the free-throw line

and grabbed five rebounds, igniting an early run that wiped out New

Jersey’s 11-point lead. He also made the key shots during a late

9-2 run that finally gave the Pacers control of the game.

Indiana needed every ounce of energy Granger could provide.

”He was close last night, but he was going to be limited with

what he could do in terms of pushing off,” Pacers coach Frank

Vogel said. ”Twenty-four hours makes a huge difference. The one

thing about it is that he had fresher legs than anyone else out on

the court.”

New Jersey (8-23) sure didn’t want to see Granger playing this

way.

Deron Williams scored 29 points and Kris Humphries had 24 points

and 10 rebounds, not quite enough to snap their losing streak which

is now at eight. The last time they lost eight in a row was Nov.

30-Dec. 14, 2010.

And in a metropolitan area that already has a Super Bowl

champion (the Giants), the biggest mouth in football (Rex Ryan), a

Stanley Cup contender (the Rangers) and the NBA’s hottest new

attraction (Jeremy Lin), the last thing the Nets needed in this

latest public relations battle was another loss.

”So much pressure, I don’t know how we’re going to deal with

it,” Williams said sarcastically.

The difference Thursday was Granger.

New Jersey sure didn’t make it easy.

Humphries controlled the inside early, making his first six

shots and scoring 12 points in the first quarter as the Nets built

a 29-18 lead.

But when Humphries went to the bench after drawing his second

foul with 47.4 seconds left in the quarter, Granger asserted

himself and the Nets collapsed.

The Pacers forward hit a 3-pointer to start a 15-0 run. Paul

George ended it with another 3 to give Indiana a 33-29 lead.

From that point, the teams were locked in a virtual stalemate

and Granger was just trying to hang on.

”A lot of times, when you get into a game and the adrenaline

starts slowing, you’re not in as much pain as you would normally be

in,” he said. ”But I felt it.”

Things didn’t change much in the second half. Neither team led

by more than four points in the third quarter, and it wasn’t until

George made a 21-foot jumper with 8:15 to go that the Pacers

finally took the lead for good.

Then, Granger re-emerged. He followed George’s basket with two

free throws and made two more after George forced a turnover and

tossed the ball down the court. Suddenly, Indiana had a 75-69 lead

with 7:05 left, and after extending the margin to 88-79, all the

Pacers had to do was fend off one more Nets’ charge.

Granger made sure of it by making the final four free throws of

the game.

”We definitely missed him,” George said after finishing with

11 points, five rebounds and five assists. ”Danny brings a lot.

He’s our best scorer. He defends so well, with Danny out, that

definitely hurt us.”

Notes: The biggest surprise of the night came when the lights

went out with 8:08 left in the first half. The officials sent both

teams to their benches briefly before the lights came back on. …

Indiana has only six fast-break points in its past two games. …

The Pacers have played five games in seven days and wrapped up

their first back-to-back-to-back of the season Thursday. …

Indiana played its 11th straight game without George Hill, who has

a chip fracture in his left ankle. … New Jersey was missing

Shawne Williams, who is out indefinitely because of a sprained left

shoulder, sore left foot and knee.