for this game

Sans Granger, Pacers come out on top again

Feb 26, 2009 - 5:35 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The Indiana Pacers are taking the absence of their best player in stride.

The Pacers won for the third time in four games since leading scorer Danny Granger went down with a torn tendon in his right foot, holding off the Memphis Grizzlies for a 104-99 triumph on Wednesday night.

Indiana has also been playing with swingman Mike Dunleavy, who has been sidelined most of this season with a sore right knee. Guard T.J Ford, who played against Memphis despite suffering from the flu, finished with 20 points off the bench.

"It's opportunities for a lot of people. A lot of people have to make up the scoring," Ford said. "Everybody understands what the task is and how we have to play to get wins. I think we've definitely been showcasing it."

The Pacers took control in the first half but saw that control wilt down the stretch as Memphis gradually cut into its deficit. Quinton Ross capped a 9-2 run with a pair of free throws to tie the game at 95-95 with 2:24 left to play, but the Pacers responded on the other end as Troy Murphy tipped in Jeff Foster's miss.

Marquis Daniels buried a short jumper with 46 seconds remaining to extend the lead to four and the Pacers closed the game out at the foul line. Rudy Gay missed a potential game-tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds.

"It felt good when it left my hand," Gay said. "I thought it had a great chance to go in, it was probably an inch off. It's frustrating to lose that way. It's tough on me."

Forced to survive in the short term without Granger's 25 points per game, the Pacers got contributions from everywhere in this one. Jarrett Jack had 20 points, Daniels and rookie guard Brandon Rush added 14 apiece, and Murphy chipped in 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Granger, who is coming off his first All-Star selection, suffered the injury on February 18 in a loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. He may miss another two weeks.

"We kind of leaned a little bit toward Danny, and deservedly so, but now the plays are called a little equally spread out, so it gives guys an equal opportunity to get shots and score and show what they can do," Murphy said.

Despite their difficulties all season, the Pacers remain in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, entering the night four games behind eighth-place Milwaukee (28-31).

"This is a great group of guys to coach," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "They're a very resilient group and they always believe they can win. I'm very proud of the way these guys compete."

Perhaps feeling the extra sense of desperation with their top scorer out and the regular season winding down, the Pacers established control with a big second quarter. With the game tied at 38-38 with just over seven minutes left in the period, reserve swingman Stephen Graham buried a 3-pointer to spark a 22-12 run to open up a double-digit lead for Indiana.

Jack, Ford and Travis Diener all connected from the arc during the spurt.

A pair of rookies carried the load for Memphis, as Marc Gasol collected 22 points and 15 boards and O.J. Mayo added 21 points. But it wasn't quite enough, as the Grizzlies lost their sixth straight contest.

"We were one or two plays away from winning the game," Memphis guard Mike Conley said. "They made some great plays down the stretch. Daniels hit a big shot for them, and they were able to extend their lead a little."