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