for this game

Granger, Pacers hold off shorthanded Rockets

Jan 24, 2009 - 4:25 AM By Chris Nelsen PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- For one of the few times this season, the Indiana Pacers had their full complement of players. The same couldn't be said for the visiting Houston Rockets.

Danny Granger scored 25 points and Troy Murphy added 14 points and 16 rebounds as the Pacers defeated the injury-riddled Rockets, 107-102, on Friday night.

The Rockets, already without Tracy McGrady (left knee) and Ron Artest (right ankle), played the second half without All-Star center Yao Ming, who sat out the final two quarters after banging his right knee against the knee of Indiana's Jeff Foster in the first quarter.

Houston coach Rick Adelman said after the game that he was uncertain about the severity of Yao's injury and his status for Sunday's game at Detroit.

"It was a knee-to-knee hit," said Yao, who finished with eight points and five rebounds in 17 minutes. "After the first possession, it just felt funny. At halftime, we took a look at it."

In Yao's absence, Luis Scola finished with 25 points to lead Houston, which had a three-game winning streak snapped. The Rockets were swept by the Pacers in the two-game season-series.

"We game planned a lot for Yao, obviously, so in the first half our defense was geared toward him, but we were able to make adjustments," Murphy said. "Scola hit us hard a little bit in the second half, but we were able to pull it out."

Reserve T.J. Ford chipped in 21 points and Mike Dunleavy added 13 for the Pacers, who nearly blew a 17-point third-quarter lead but held on to win their fourth straight home game.

"We got to keep it going, especially if we want to get back in this race for the playoffs," Granger said.

Despite leading Indiana offensively, Granger's biggest contribution came on the defensive end. He blocked Von Wafer's driving dunk attempt with 18 seconds left, preserving the club's 101-97 advantage.

"He had a wide-open dunk and I pretty much met him up top," Granger said. "That was a big play considering the game was close."

Ford made the ensuing free throws and the Pacers held on from there to avoid a third consecutive loss. Ford made 13 straight free throws after missing his first of the game.

"T.J. hit some big baskets down the stretch," Granger said. "He had a good overall game."

Behind 50 percent shooting from the field and Rafer Alston's nine points, the Rockets led by as many as eight points in the first quarter. Indiana got within a point on Rasho Nesterovic's jumper, but Houston took a 24-21 lead on Carl Landry's basket to end the period.

The Pacers used a 15-3 run over a five-minute stretch of the second quarter to create some separation. The Rockets made just five field goals in the period and missed all five of their 3-point attempts.

"We gave ourselves a chance in the second quarter," Adelman said. "For whatever reason, we didn't have anything going."

Houston fell behind, 59-42, on Ford's two free throws early in the third quarter. The Rockets answered with a 15-5 run to close the gap to seven, and they entered the final period behind 72-65.

"We continued to fight," Houston forward Shane Battier said. "A few plays down the stretch and we could have pulled this one out."