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Dunleavy, Pacers pull away from Sonics

Mar 12, 2008 - 2:39 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Mike Dunleavy returned from an ankle injury to lead the Indiana Pacers to a rare victory.

Dunleavy scored 32 points and Danny Granger added 23 as the Pacers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 114-107 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Tuesday.

Troy Murphy chipped in 19 points and nine rebounds for the Pacers, who had lost six of their last seven meetings with the SuperSonics.

"We needed a W and we got one," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said. "Mike (Dunleavy), Jeff (Foster), a bunch of guys gutted it out. When Mike gets going, he can put up points in a quick fashion."

The team's second-leading scorer, Dunleavy had left the contest early in the second quarter after landing awkwardly on Seattle center Nick Collison's foot while attempting a shot in the paint.

But the six-year pro came back later in the quarter, shooting 10-of-16 from the floor, including 4-of-5 from the arc, to post his seventh 30-point game of the season.

It was his third game of at least 32 points in his last six contests, but Dunleavy seemed more concerned about the team.

"You have to look at each game differently," Dunleavy said. "If we start winning and build some momentum, that's one thing, but we have to come out each and every night and keep scrapping and clawing. We have to keep finding ways to win."

Dunleavy had 27 of his points through the first three quarters, but the game was close throughout with neither team holding a double-digit lead entering the fourth.

The Pacers, who led by one point at the break, had started to create a little bit of separation toward the end of the third, using an 8-2 run to take an 86-77 advantage with under one minute left.

But the Sonics scored the final five points of the quarter - capped by rookie Kevin Durant's 3-pointer - to close within four points entering the fourth.

However, Indiana kept Seattle at bay, taking a 98-89 lead on Murphy's jumper. The Pacers later took the first double-digit lead of the game at 106-95 after Granger's 3-pointer, which capped an 8-2 spurt with 4:15 to play.

"We needed more guys to step up and play well," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "They had more guys play well. We couldn't guard them at three different positions. I thought we were adequate guarding the 3-point line, but we got manhandled on the offensive glass and we just didn't defend."

Seattle could only get as close as seven the rest of the way as it dropped its fifth straight game.

With the win, Indiana moved within 1 1/2 games of Atlanta (26-37) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We believe we're in a playoff race," O'Brien said. "We started out tonight two games out of the eighth spot and we're in a position where we can control out own destiny."

Durant led six players in double figures for Seattle with 27 points. Rookie Jeff Green and Collison each added 15.

"We didn't guard as well as we should have," Durant said. "We've been shooting well lately, I think over 50 percent the last three games, so we just have to pick up our defensive intensity and we'll be OK."

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