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Dunleavy, Pacers too strong for Knicks

Apr 17, 2008 - 3:21 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Mike Dunleavy tied a career-high with 36 points and Danny Granger added 26 as the Indiana Pacers defeated the New York Knicks, 132-123, on Wednesday in the season finale for both teams.

Jamal Crawford scored 25 first-half points before sitting out the second half and Zach Randolph recorded 23 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for the Knicks, who suffered a franchise record-tying 59th loss this season.

Nothing has gone right this season for New York, which posted just an 8-33 record away from Madison Square Garden and tied the worst mark in team history on the road with Wednesday's loss.

New York's Isiah Thomas, who already has been replaced as team president by Donnie Walsh, likely coached his last game after the Knicks finished below .500 for the seventh consecutive season.

"I'll wait and see what Donnie has to say," Thomas said. "He's our boss and whatever he wants us to do, then that's what we'll do.

"It's been a very difficult year out on the floor, however inside our locker room, we had a lot of growth. The players matured and they grew as men. Those things don't show up on the floor, but the men that they became in the locker room and the way they conducted themselves through a very tough season says a lot."

Crawford defended Thomas' ability to guide the team.

"Everybody here likes coach Thomas a lot. He brought all of us here personally," Crawford said. "We show a certain loyalty to him. I always put it into perspective with Doc Rivers. Last season, they won 15-16 games and everyone wanted him fired. This year, he's up for coach of the year. It helps to get Kevin Garnett, but Doc has done a good job managing down there."

Thomas' future with the Knicks isn't the only one in question.

"The only thing that I can control is me being ready," Randolph said about the possibility of being traded. "Training camp comes on October 1 and I'll just show up in shape, ready to play basketball."

Dunleavy has scored 36 points five different times this season - with three of those coming against the Knicks. On Wednesday, the former Duke star was 12-for-19 from the floor and 6-for-8 from the free-throw line.

"I thought we finished the season well tonight," Dunleavy said. "Hopefully better things next year. I think we're moving in the right direction. Certainly, this is as disappointing a season as any in terms of how the team and the organization finished. Nobody's happy about it, there's nothing we can do about it now. We'll move forward and hopefully improve from within this summer."

Granger echoed Dunleavy's positive statements.

"I think we are going in the right direction," Granger said. "There is a better feeling in the locker room this year than there was last year, even though we didn't make the playoffs. Down the stretch, we played so well ... and even before Jermaine (O'Neal) and Jamal (Tinsley) got hurt ... we showed that we can play with people. The last stretch gives you something to build on."

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