for this game

Pacers secure rare winning streak, top Roy-less Blazers

Feb 10, 2008 - 5:13 AM By Vince DeGregorio PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The Portland Trail Blazers were without All-Star Brandon Roy. Danny Granger and the Indiana Pacers took full advantage.

Granger scored 29 points and Jeff Foster added 10 and 14 rebounds as the Pacers secured a second consecutive win for the first time in nearly two months with a 101-93 victory over the Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

Kareem Rush collected 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for Indiana, which snapped a seven-game losing streak with a win over the lowly New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

It was the first time the Pacers registered back-to-back wins since December 15-19, when they reeled off three straight wins against Eastern Conference doormats New York, Miami and Philadelphia.

"Guys played a big game," Pacers guard Kareem Rush said. "Danny had a great game, Travis (Diener) made some big plays; it's two in a row, and that's big for us."

Indiana's success was aided by the absence of Roy, who is Portland's lone representative in this month's All-Star Game in New Orleans. The reigning Rookie of the Year leads the team in scoring (19.7), assists (5.8) and steals (1.0).

Roy now has missed two straight games after a death in his family - both losses for the Blazers, who have struggled since starting the season as one of the league's surprise squads. Portland has lost six of its last nine.

The Blazers' latest setback came mostly because of Granger, who shot 9-of-17 from the field - including 4-of-7 on 3-pointers - and nailed all nine of his free throws.

The former first-round pick set the tone early, nailing all three of his shots from the arc en route to a 20-20 tie after the opening period.

"I had the stroke on, but the important thing is that we got the win," Granger said. "We all had to pick it up with Mike (Dunleavy) out. They started to make some plays down the stretch and we answered them every time."

"He had a flawless game," Portland coach Nate McMillan said of Granger. "He knocked down a couple of big shots, he had no turnovers, and he did a good job of distributing the ball. He did a nice job of running that team."

Indiana led by three points at halftime and pushed its lead to double digits in the third to make it 69-58 on Marquis Daniels' jumper with 3:01 left. Portland did not get any closer than six thereafter.

"It comes down to the third quarter," McMillan said. "The turnovers. The fouls early, putting them in the penalty with eight minutes to go, and then the offensive rebounds. The effort was better, but the execution just wasn't where it needs to be to win games."

Diener had 15 points and nine assists for the Pacers, who snapped a five-game losing streak here and, despite their struggles, remain in the hunt for a playoff spot in the East.

"We didn't shoot that well, but winning is all that counts," Diener said. "If you shoot 10 percent or 80 percent, if you shoot 10 percent and win, that's all that matters. If you shoot 80 percent and lose, who cares?"

Indiana (21-30), which had just six turnovers in this one, is tied with Chicago (20-29) for ninth place - one-half game behind the New Jersey Nets (21-29) for the final playoff spot. The Bulls play at Utah later Saturday.

LaMarcus Aldridge collected 21 points and 11 rebounds for Portland.

"They had big-time offensive rebounds and they made shots," Aldridge said. "Every time they had to make a shot to keep it going, they made it."

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