Pacers ‘Just Win' Against Hapless Wizards

Granger scores 27 for Indiana

A 15-point second-half lead had turned into a tie game before the end of the third quarter, and the six-game losing streak was starting to weigh on the mind of at least one Indiana Pacer.

But forward Danny Granger put any doubt out of his mind after coach Jim O'Brien issued a simple directive, which led to the Pacers pulling away for a 118-98 win against the Washington Wizards on Monday night.

"There's always that little thought in your head, 'We can't get over the hump,"' Granger said. "But coach pulled us aside on the bench and said, 'Just win the game.' And we went out there and did that."

Granger scored 27 points and added nine rebounds to pace Indiana as it snapped that six-game skid. Marquis Daniels had 20 points and point guards T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack each scored 16 points for the Pacers (8-16), who had dropped eight of nine entering the game.

Indiana managed to end its struggles, at least for a night, but Washington still is sinking.

The Wizards have the Eastern Conference's worst record (4-18) and have lost six of seven, including three in a row.

Indiana dominated the rebounding and turnover stats as the Pacers ended up with their largest margin of victory and matched their best point total of the season.

"We like to consider ourselves a high-scoring team, we like to get up and down," Daniels said. "Anytime we get an extra possession it's great for us."

Antawn Jamison had 26 points and a season-high 15 rebounds -- his 14th double-double this season -- and Caron Butler scored 26 for Washington. Andray Blatche, inserted into the starting lineup in place of rookie JaVale McGee, had 19 points.

Indiana took the lead in the first quarter and pulled away in the second. An 8-0 run gave Indiana a 45-32 lead with 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half, and the Pacers had a 62-48 lead at halftime. The Pacers built the lead to 15 in the opening minutes of the second half before Washington rallied.

The suddenly energetic Wizards chipped away during a 35-point third quarter -- their second-highest output in any period this season -- but Washington never managed to take the lead.

Darius Songalia's layup tied the score at 79 with 2:21 left in the quarter and Butler's 3-pointer again tied the game at 83 with 53 seconds left. However, Granger answered Butler's shot with a drive and dunk in the lane, the first of 11 unanswered points that gave the Pacers control of the game.

"They came back, expended a lot of energy coming back, and we just stayed with our plan," O'Brien said.

Indiana dominated the rebounding, holding a 55-41 advantage, including a season-best 23 offensive rebounds. Troy Murphy led the way with 12 and Jeff Foster had 11, seven on the offensive end.

"Theoretically we had good stops on a number of occasions tonight, but we were unable to come up with the ball," Washington coach Ed Tapscott said.

Indiana also turned the ball over only 10 times, matching a season low, while the Pacers' 12 steals were a major portion of Washington's 18 turnovers.

"It is really frustrating," Blatche said. "I've been in this locker room for four years. In the four years, this is the worst it's been for us. ... Even though we started slow some of the seasons, we always managed to turn it around. The difference between that is we always had effort."

The Pacers now feel they may be able to add a few more wins to the schedule. The losing streak included two games against Boston and one at Cleveland. Monday's game was the beginning of a six-game stretch that features only one opponent with a winning record -- 12-11 New Jersey.

"It's a great feeling, man," Granger said. "We've been struggling. They've been struggling, it was two struggling teams. We needed this game bad. We have a stretch of games coming up where we've got to start making up some ground for the games we've given away."

Notes: Rookie center Roy Hibbert was in a familiar setting as he made his first trip to Washington with the Pacers. The former Georgetown star called it "surreal" to walk past the Hoyas' locker room in the Verizon Center. Hibbert, who made his second start Monday, had about 30 friends and family in the stands and started asking his teammates for extra tickets two months ago. However, Hibbert picked up three fouls in the opening six minutes and finished scoreless. ... Wizards C Etan Thomas was inactive Monday for what coach Ed Tapscott termed a "routine" checkup. Thomas missed all of last season after undergoing open-heart surgery.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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