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Murphy, Dunleavy help Pacers snap 11-game skid

Mar 18, 2007 - 3:50 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy Jr. helped the Indiana Pacers avoid matching a dubious record.

Murphy scored 22 points and Dunleavy added 21 as the Pacers snapped an 11-game losing streak - their longest in 18 years - with a 113-90 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Indiana (30-35) has lost 12 games in a row three times in franchise history, the last time from January 26-February 23, 1989.

"It's been a struggle," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's been a brutal part of the schedule. There may have been a few times when the guys hung their heads. We've been playing and trying. Tonight was a big step in the right direction."

The much-needed win moved Indiana one-half game ahead of New Jersey (30-36) and one game ahead of Orlando (30-36) in the race for the final two playoffs spots in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have not missed the postseason since 1997.

"We're not worried about not missing the playoffs," veteran Indiana guard Darrell Armstrong said. "We just let everybody do the talking. That's the media's job, and we understand that. Nobody (on the team) wants to talk about our losing streak. That's part of basketball, that's part of football, that's part of sports."

The Pacers have had a tough season on and off the court. After Stephen Jackson's legal troubles prior to the season, Indiana sent him to Golden State in a huge eight-player trade that netted Murphy and Dunleavy.

However, the new-look squad has battled injuries to key players, including star forward Jermaine O'Neal (knee), point guard Jamaal Tinsley (foot), forward Jeff Foster (back) and guard Marquis Daniels (knee).

But the Pacers still plan on righting the ship down the stretch of the season.

"We're still playing to be in the playoffs," Carlisle said. "So, there's a lot to play for. We had some guys play well and we're going to have to have that kind of balance and depth to be successful."

O'Neal and Tinsley played Saturday, combining for just 15 points on 4-of-19 shooting. However, Tinsley ran the team effectively, dishing out 14 assists.

"Tonight was a game where Jamaal showed how important he was to our team," Carlisle said. "He had zero turnovers and 14 assists in (27 minutes, 51 seconds) and set the tone for the entire game. He made the game easier for everyone."

But two of the newest Pacers picked up the scoring slack as Murphy shot 10-of-13 from the field and Dunleavy was 7-of-8, including 2-of-3 from the arc.

"He's a great shooter, so every time he shoots, it looks like it's going in," Murphy said of Dunleavy. "He played well tonight, especially in the second quarter, and got the lead built up for us."

Indiana dominated throughout, taking a 68-44 lead into the third quarter. The Pacers kept the pressure on in the second half, pushing their advantage to 108-77 - their largest of the game - with 2:48 left.

Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia scored 16 points apiece for the Hawks, who have lost two in a row but are 4-2 since star guard Joe Johnson was sidelined with a bruised right calf.

"We struggled from beginning to end tonight," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "I thought our three young guys (Marvin Williams, Smith, and Josh Childress) were just awful tonight, especially defensively.

"I can't take anything away from Dunleavy and Murphy and (Danny) Granger because they played well, but we were just so non-competitive at those positions. It's unacceptable. You can't come out and play like that."

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