National Basketball Association
Granger, Murphy keeps Pacers alive
National Basketball Association

Granger, Murphy keeps Pacers alive

Published Apr. 6, 2009 5:31 a.m. ET

Needing an unlikely finish to make the playoffs, the postseason is an afterthought to Danny Granger and the Indiana Pacers now.

At this point, all they can do is take care of their own business and hope for a whole lot of help.

Granger scored 24 points, Troy Murphy added 22 points and nine rebounds, and the Pacers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 117-99 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night.

Indiana now finds itself four games behind both Chicago and Detroit, which are tied for seventh place, with five to play.

"As a collective unit, we didn't want to finish the season on a sour note - regardless of whether we're going to make the playoffs or we're not," Granger said. "We've still got to play every game."

Indiana shot 50 percent or better for the fifth time in seven games and put the game away by outscoring Oklahoma City 33-19 in the third quarter.

Roy Hibbert added 17 points, Jarrett Jack scored 14 and Brandon Rush had 13 points for the Pacers as all five starters reached double figures. T.J. Ford also had 12 points off the bench.

"We're not going to make the playoffs," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said. "We could win every game and not make the playoffs. We're too far behind."

The Pacers certainly haven't showed any signs of giving up. They've averaged 110.4 points, six more than their season average, over the last seven games and gone 5-2 during that stretch.

"We've just been putting it together lately," Granger said. "We've been hitting on all cylinders on the offensive end."

Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 25 points and Nick Collison scored 15. Rookie D.J. White added 14 points in his NBA debut after missing the first five months of the season following jaw surgery.

"After years of hard work, it was my first time in an NBA game. I'm just happy," said White, who played his college ball at Indiana. "The outcome wasn't what I wanted it to be, and hopefully the next game we can pull it off, but just to touch the floor was something I'll always remember."

After Oklahoma City whittled a 15-point deficit down to seven, Murphy followed Granger's basket in the lane with a 3-pointer from the top of the key as the Pacers started creating some distance again. Hibbert added a three-point play and then finished the 12-2 run with a free throw to extend Indiana's edge to 71-54 with 7:13 left in the third quarter.

The Pacers had an eight-point burst to push their lead beyond 20 late in the period, and Ford converted a steal into a transition jumper to make it 100-73 with 8 1/2 minutes left.

"I just think it's been a learning year," Ford said. "I think, at times, we were able to figure things out and able to make the correct plays and make adjustments out there, and sometimes we're not good at it."

Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook each scored 11 points and Shaun Livingston had 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists in his second game with the Thunder. He had been out much of the last two years after a serious knee injury.

Oklahoma City has followed a surprising win at San Antonio with two lackluster performances at home, being held to a season scoring low in a 107-72 loss to Portland on Friday night. The Thunder have lost five of six, giving up 100 points or more in each loss.

"That wasn't the competitive spirit I wanted to see out of our team tonight," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "We have to play better and harder and with more spirit."

Indiana took the lead for good with an early 19-4 run that featured back-to-back three-point plays by Hibbert and Granger. Murphy's 3-pointer from the right wing gave the Pacers a 26-11 lead before Oklahoma City scored the next six points.

The Pacers never let Oklahoma City get closer than seven after that, leading 57-48 at halftime before Green opened the second half with a jumper for the Thunder.

"I'm not even sure if we are still alive, but you still try to win as many games as you can to finish the season off strong," Ford said. "That's our mentality."


Granger snapped a career-best streak of four straight games eclipsing 30 points. ... White, the Big Ten Player of the Year last season for Indiana, hit his first six shots and finished 7-for-8. ... Thunder C Nenad Krstic, off to a 1-for-13 start from the field, was called for his first technical foul of the season with 8:44 left in the third quarter. He hadn't missed that many shots in a game all season, and didn't return after the technical.


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