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Dunleavy stays hot as Pacers crush Bucks

Mar 3, 2008 - 3:58 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Mike Dunleavy matched a career high with 36 points for the second straight game to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 128-106 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.

Danny Granger returned from his one-game suspension to add 27 points and Travis Diener chipped in 15 and six assists for the Pacers, who set a season high for points and have won two in a row.

Dunleavy tied his career high in Friday's win over the Toronto Raptors and matched that figure again against the Bucks, lighting up the scoreboard on 11-of-17 shooting - including 4-of-6 from the arc.

"I'm taking advantage of what's coming to me," Dunleavy said. "We've tried to play this way (up tempo) all year. We've done it in spurts, but the last two games, we've done it consistently for all four quarters."

The veteran swingman, who is in the midst of his best season as a professional, hit 10-of-12 free throws and added five rebounds.

Indiana blew the game open in the second quarter, beginning the period on an 8-0 run to take a 37-29 lead with 10:37 until the break.

The Bucks fought back to take a 43-42 lead on Michael Redd's jumper with 6:28 left in the second, but the Pacers ended the half on a 22-7 run to take a 64-50 lead at the break.

"We're not going to beat anyone, not a chance, when we give up 64 points in each half," Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "The bottom line is that, sometimes our offense is good enough to keep us in games, but without a concerted effort on our part as a team and as individuals to guard someone, it's going to be real tough to get a win."

Dunleavy scored 23 in the first half on 8-of-12 shooting for the Pacers, who put the game away with a 15-3 run to begin the fourth quarter. Granger, who sat out Friday's game serving a league-imposed suspension for a hit on Chicago Bulls forward Andres Nocioni, scored seven points during the spurt.

"Right now, he's on a tremendous hot streak and we are going to continue to feed him the ball," Pacers guard Kareem Rush said of Dunleavy. "He's been aggressive driving to the hoop, getting to the free-throw line, and when he's open, he's knocking down shots."

Redd scored 28 points and Mo Williams added 15 for the Bucks, who shot just 38 percent (38-of-100) in the contest.

"When you get beat by your man, you can't just give up and head to the offensive end," Bucks center Andrew Bogut said. "That's what we're doing at the moment. Offensively, we're fine right now. If we can get some stops, we can stay in games, but when you let Indiana score 128 points, you're not going to beat them ... ever."

With the win, Indiana (24-36) is within 2 1/2 games of the New Jersey Nets (26-33) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Nets dropped a 93-83 decision to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

"After so many tough losses, so many letdowns, and tough fourth quarters, coach brought up a good point," Dunleavy said. "He said we kind of stop playing our game in the fourth quarter and get tentative.

"Now, from the tip, we're just saying to ourselves, 'Go, keep playing, don't let up no matter what happens.' We're up 20, down 20, if it gets close, just play our style and we'll get through it."

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