for this game

Pacers rebound from embarrassing loss, down Wizards

Dec 23, 2007 - 5:32 AM By Gary Knight PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) - One day after their defense surrendered a season high in points to one of the league's worst offenses, the Indiana Pacers got back on track against the shorthanded Washington Wizards.

Danny Granger scored 25 points and Kareem Rush added 15 off the bench as the Pacers downed the Wizards, 93-85, on Saturday.

In Friday's surprising loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana allowed 131 points, including 111 after the first quarter.

"I think we really had a bad taste in our mouth from last night," Granger said. "We came in and said, 'Let's get this taste out and get a win.' We're a better team than we showed last night."

The Pacers caught a break against injury-plagued Washington, which dressed only nine players and was missing two starters, including the red-hot Caron Butler, who is off to the best start of his career. The team also is without guard Gilbert Arenas, who has been sidelined since mid-November due to knee surgery.

"We don't want to just keep it close, we really want to win the game," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "There's no real satisfaction in just keeping it close. I like the way that we played hard, with purpose, and the way we did the right things.

"I thought Brendan (Haywood) was really good against Jermaine (O'Neal). We held them to 40-percent shooting, and we just couldn't make the plays to get over the top."

The Wizards kept the game close throughout, cutting a 13-point third-quarter lead down to 61-60 with 1:27 left in the third quarter on a short jumper from Antawn Jamison, but Indiana scored seven straight points to finish the quarter leading, 68-60.

Trailing by nine points less than a minute into the fourth quarter, the Wizards used a 9-0 run to tie it at 70-70 with 8:12 left in the fourth as DeShawn Stevenson scored five consecutive points.

However, Indiana refused to allow the Wizards to take the lead. Granger hit a 3-pointer to cap a 7-0 stretch and Washington could not get any closer than three the rest of the way. The fourth-year veteran scored 11 points in the pivotal fourth quarter.

Rush was nearly unstoppable in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his points and missing just one of his six shots in the stanza, to help the Pacers establish a 45-34 halftime lead.

"Danny made some big-time shots when the rest of us were struggling," O'Neal said. "And I don't want Kareem Rush's effort to go (unnoticed) because he really carried us in the second quarter. Danny and Kareem were the catalysts for this win."

"I shot the ball well tonight and my teammates did a good job of finding me, especially in the second quarter," Rush said. "That's my job, to come in a knock down shots.

O'Neal added 18 points, eight rebounds and a season-high six blocks for Indiana.

Jamison poured in 29 and 12 rebounds for Washington, which has lost three in a row.

"We didn't play smart," Jamison said. "The keys were the transition game and rebounding. I think we did OK rebounding, but our transition defense was how they got going early. Down the stretch, once again, we were in the position to win the game, but we didn't get it done."

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