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Dunleavy, Pacers close gap in playoff race, beat Bucks

Apr 12, 2007 - 5:21 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Mike Dunleavy needed to be at his best in order to keep the Indiana Pacers' postseason hopes alive.

Dunleavy matched his season high of 25 points and Danny Granger added 18 and a career-high 10 assists as the Pacers beat the lowly Milwaukee Bucks, 104-98, sweeping the season series.

Jermaine O'Neal and reserve Darrell Armstrong each had 16 points for Indiana (35-43), which closed within one game of Orlando (36-42) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. On Wednesday, the Magic lost, 104-99, to Detroit, which clinched the best record in the East.

"Our players are showing a lot of guts in the last 10 days, hanging in and battling," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "We needed this more than any victory we've needed since I've been here, going on four years. We knew tonight was a big night because Orlando had a tough team that had something to play for."

Dunleavy shot 8-of-15 from the field and scored 16 of his total in the second half for the Pacers, who have not missed the postseason since 1997.

"I thought we did a great job of moving the ball all together," Dunleavy said. "We hit our shots, moved the ball and shared and that's what we needed to do."

Dunleavy also had 25 points vs. Cleveland on March 11.

Keith McLeod added 11 points and Jeff Foster grabbed 13 rebounds for Indiana, which shot 44 percent (38-of-87) and crushed Milwaukee on the boards, 58-39.

"We're still fighting," O'Neal said. "We've been in some tough predicaments this past season, but we just keep trying to find a way."

"We rebounded well and came out and got the job done and that's all that matters," Dunleavy added.

Mo Williams scored 23 points and Dan Gadzuric and reserve David Noel each had 18 for the Bucks, who have lost four straight and 11 of their last 12 contests.

"Coach (Larry Krystkowiak) always says, 'We're not going to make the playoffs, but we can definitely affect the playoffs,'" said Noel, who posted a career high in points. "That's what we've been trying to do for the last couple of games - go out there, lay it all on the line and just get prepared for next year."

Charlie Bell also had 14 points for Milwaukee, which shot 47 percent (42-of-92) and has dropped a franchise-record 14 straight against division opponents.

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