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Dunleavy leads Pacers past Knicks

Dec 18, 2007 - 4:48 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Editor

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- As cold as the New York Knicks were during the second quarter, Mike Dunleavy was equally as hot in the third and it turned into more ugliness at Madison Square Garden.

After contributing to a defensive effort that forced the Knicks to miss 20 straight shots in the second, Dunleavy scored 22 of his career-high 36 points in the third as the Pacers moved over the .500 mark with a 119-92 victory on Monday night.

"In the second half, we came in here and decided that we wanted to pick up the tempo," Dunleavy said. "We did a good job of moving the ball and my teammates found me and I made some shots. It was pretty fun tonight."

Jermaine O'Neal added 22 points for Indiana (13-12), which is above .500 for the first time since it was 3-2 on November 9. Troy Murphy contributed 17 points and Jamaal Tinsley collected 12 assists for the Pacers, who shot 58 percent (49-of-84).

Dunleavy turned in his second 30-point game of the season as he was 7-of-9 from the floor in the third and 13-of-18 overall. He scored 14 of Indiana's final 20 points in the last 4:47 of the quarter that snapped a 64-64 tie and put Indiana ahead 84-72 entering the fourth.

"It was fantastic," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said. "Michael carried us. He was brilliant for us. He's having a career year. We're putting the ball in his hands a lot. Jermaine really carried us in the first half and Michael really carried us in the third quarter."

Dunleavy's big night highlighted a solid all-around showing for Indiana, which also got 16 points from Danny Granger as well as 14 points from reserve Marquis Daniels.

The Pacers shot a season-best 58.3 percent (49-of-84). They also were 11-of-23 from 3-point range, made all of their 10 foul shots and handed out 29 assists.

They also held the Knicks to 38 percent (30-of-79) from the floor and 29.5 percent (18-of-61) in the final 36 minutes.

"We are playing great team basketball," O'Neal said. "We are moving the ball on offense and we playing good defense."

Dunleavy's big third quarter dropped the Knicks to 7-17 and sent them to their sixth loss in seven games. New York's 11th double-digit defeat and its fifth loss by at least 25 points had coach Isiah Thomas questioning his team's competitiveness.

"I don't have an answer for that," Thomas said. "As a coach you bring certain things to the table. But our collective energy, our collective heart, our collective toughness - we say the right things but we don't gut it out for 48 minutes. We don't grind and we don't compete like we should for 48 minutes.

Before Dunleavy heated up, it was Indiana's defense that was hot. They turned a three-point deficit into a 12-point lead by holding the Knicks without a field goal for 10:50, forcing them to miss jumpers, tip-ins and only get points from the foul line.

"I didn't know they missed 20 straight shots," O'Brien said. "We picked up our defense in the second, third and fourth quarter. We were not happy with our defense. We discussed it between quarters and our guys responded."

The Knicks took a three-point edge on Jamal Crawford's 23-footer just 14 seconds into the second quarter. By the time they scored again on Zach Randolph's hook shot with 56.5 seconds to play, Indiana was up by 10.

New York hit its final three shots of the first half and trailed by seven at the break. The Knicks hung around and eventually tied it on a pair of David Lee free throws with 5:51 remaining in the third.

That was it as Dunleavy scored 12 straight Indiana points, opening a 76-66 edge with 2:08 remaining. They continued to pull away during the fourth and midway through the period, the Knicks and owner Jim Dolan started hearing loud boos and loud "Fire Isiah" chants.

"At times it was (an effort thing)," Knicks center Eddy Curry said. "At times it was just making the right play and just caring enough to the right spot and just caring enough to help your teammate out.

"I think my teammates have pride and heart," New York forward Quentin Richardson added. "I know I do. I am a competitor so I am obviously disappointed."

By then the only thing for Knicks fans worth watching was seeing if Dunleavy could reach 40 points. In between chanting for Thomas' termination and booing the Knicks, they did not get to see Dunleavy reach 40 as he took a seat with just under four minutes remaining but still surpassed his previous career-high by six points.

Randolph led the Knicks with 26 points but scored just two points after halftime. Curry, who rebounded from Friday's scoreless night in Chicago with 23 points and nine rebounds Saturday against New Jersey, finished with 16 points and also had seven turnovers.

Stephon Marbury returned for the first time since December 8 due to the death of his father and had 16 points in 29 minutes.

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