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Murphy, Granger help Pacers cruise past Timberwolves

Mar 22, 2008 - 3:50 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Troy Murphy helped keep the Indiana Pacers on postseason life support.

Murphy scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Pacers cruised past the Minnesota Timberwolves, 124-113, on Friday.

Mike Dunleavy scored 11 of his 25 points in the second quarter and Danny Granger scored 22 of his 32 in the second half for Indiana, which has won a season high-tying three straight games.

"We took care of business this week," Murphy said. "We had three games at home that we needed to win and we did that. We've brought a lot of energy and we haven't had to play from behind a lot. Now, we have to get one on the road (Saturday) night in Chicago."

It's the first three-game winning streak in three months for the Pacers (28-41), who are 1 1/2 games behind idle Atlanta (29-39) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We have some guys who can really shoot the ball," Dunleavy said. "We like to spread the floor and drive and kick. When we're making shots, we are tough to guard. The playoffs are within reach and we continue to strive for that. I feel like it's there for the taking."

Murphy went to work early, scoring 10 points - including a pair of 3-pointers - as Indiana raced to a 35-27 advantage after the first period.

"We came out well in the first half," Murphy said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to get it going defensively in the second half, but we came away with the win."

Dunleavy took his bows in the second quarter, drilling three shots from the arc as the Pacers took a 66-49 lead at the break. Murphy, who connected on 6-of-16 from the floor, and Granger each chipped in with seven in the second.

Indiana's leading scorer, Granger returned after missing Wednesday's game against Charlotte with a wrist injury. He drilled five of his six 3-pointers in the second half to help keep Minnesota at bay.

"At the beginning, the wrist was kind of bothering me," Granger said. "But once I got into the flow of the game, it loosened up."

The third-year man out of New Mexico posted his fourth 30-plus point game of the season and shot 11-of-23 from the field.

"The 3-point shot is a big part of coach O'Brien's offense," Granger added. "When we're shooting it well, we are hard to beat. Now, it's crunch time, and we're just trying to do everything we can to bring us a win."

The Timberwolves, who trailed by 20 with 2:08 left in the third, ran off nine straight points at the end of the quarter to cut their deficit to 93-82 entering the fourth.

However, the lead never went below eight in the final period for the Pacers, who shot 49 percent (42-of-85) to beat the Timberwolves for the first time in four tries.

Indiana was especially deadly from outside, knocking down a team-record 16 3-pointers on 27 attempts.

"The Pacers kind of got us behind the eight ball," Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said. "We didn't take care of the ball and had a lot of careless turnovers, but you have to give them credit. Indiana shot the (heck) out of it from behind the three."

Reserve Rashad McCants scored 22 points and Randy Foye had 16 and six assists for Minnesota, which shot 56 percent (46-of-82) but failed in its attempt to win three straight for the first time since January, 2007.

"It was a tough loss," McCants said. "We had a lot of problems with their pick-and-roll, and they seemed to be hitting everything. It was a long night defensively."

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