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Dunleavy, Pacers start strong, rout surging Heat

Mar 24, 2007 - 3:47 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Mike Dunleavy and the Indiana Pacers apparently do have some life left in them.

Dunleavy scored 15 of his 20 points in a dominant first quarter and Danny Granger added 22 as the Pacers ran away early en route to a 95-70 victory over the surging Miami Heat.

Entering the contest, Indiana had lost 13 of its previous 14 games and was sliding out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. With the win, the Pacers are right back in it in the crowded East.

"They sure didn't look like a team that's lost 13 out of 14 games," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "They've gone through it and probably have shook it off. They looked as good as anybody we've played in a long time. They shot it well and executed."

Indiana (31-37) is tied with Orlando (32-38) for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, one-half game ahead of New Jersey (31-38).

Dunleavy was 6-of-10 from the floor - including 3-of-4 on 3-pointers - for Indiana, which outscored Miami, 33-9, in the first period. The Pacers were a red-hot 12-of-17 from the field and 3-of-4 from the arc in the quarter.

"Obviously, we are in a position right now where we have to win our games," star forward Jermaine O'Neal said. "Tonight we did what we've been talking about doing, come out and set the tone early in the first quarter.

"Not only offensively, but on the defensive end, also. We held them to nine points in the first quarter, which is great for our team. It's a confidence boost and we need to take it into the next game."

With O'Neal slowed by a sore left knee, Granger shouldered much of the offensive load, shooting 9-of-15 from the field as more of a featured option.

"We haven't been shooting well but you're bound to start shooting well sometime," Granger said. "Hopefully tonight, we came out of the slump we've been in lately. We've shown we can play with the top teams, we just need to do it on a consistent basis. I think we're breaking through."

O'Neal added 15 points and 12 rebounds on 5-of-12 shooting but took a back seat to his teammates.

"(His teammates scoring) changed the dynamics of the game," O'Neal said. "When we hit shots, they can't set three or four people in the lane, so I can do some things. It's when we aren't hitting that teams start to pack the middle and try to make other people beat them."

The Heat shot just 17 percent (3-of-18) from the field and missed all nine 3-point attempts in the first quarter. Miami lost for just the third time in its last 14 games.

The Heat dropped to 11-4 without superstar Dwyane Wade. In his absence, Shaquille O'Neal was the only player in double figures for Miami with 13 points.

"We did not bring anything at all to the game," Riley said. "Their collective urgency and desperation, and the fact that they were so good in the first quarter; you know, the game is over with. We didn't have anything from the first possesion."

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