INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—The Indiana Pacers had become experts at winning the first half, losing the second half and losing games.
They finally won all three in a 117-97 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night that ended a six-game losing streak.
Indiana blew halftime leads in four of those losses, and looked ready to do it again before going on a 19-4 run in the third quarter to regain control.
“It feels a whole lot better to get that monkey off our back,” said Pacers forward Shawne Williams, who scored 16 points. “A lot of people were getting disgruntled because everybody is competitors in here. Nobody likes to lose.”
Mike Dunleavy scored 25 points, Danny Granger scored 19 and Jamaal Tinsley had eight points and 13 assists for the Pacers (4-6). Marquis Daniels added 17 points for Indiana after sitting out Friday’s loss at Toronto with a sore left knee.
“A great team victory,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “I thought our guys did an outstanding job concentrating on keeping the tempo where it needed to be.”
Indiana made 11 of 23 3-pointers, while Utah made 2 of 9. Dunleavy made 3 of 6 3-pointers, Williams made 2 of 5 and Granger made 2 of 4.
The Pacers had the league’s longest losing streak, their worst since an 11-game skid last season. They ended it by shooting a season-best 58 percent from the field after shooting no better than 44 percent during the losing streak.
“You have to keep shooting,” Granger said. “If you’re open, you’ve got to shoot them. We’re all really good shooters, we know that. Our shots are going to fall eventually.”
Utah (7-4) had won five in a row before losing Friday night in Cleveland.
Indiana shot 61 percent in the first half to take a 65-46 lead.
Utah opened the second half on an 8-0 run that forced the Pacers to call timeout less than 2 minutes into the third quarter. The Jazz cut Indiana’s lead to 69-60 on two free throws by Ronnie Brewer.
“We were playing a good team, they weren’t going to fold,” O’Brien said. “I told them we needed to get stops. It comes down to defense. You get stops and you get out and run.”
Williams scored seven points, including a dunk and a 3-pointer, to spark a 19-4 run that gave the Pacers an 88-64 lead. The Pacers led 95-72 at the end of the third quarter, and weren’t challenged in the fourth.
“Take your hats off to them, they kicked our butts,” Boozer said. “They shot the ball great, and we didn’t execute on offense or make them drive the ball. We missed some shots and they hit some, and the next thing you know, we’re down double digits again.”
The Pacers had played four games in five days, but appeared to be the more energetic team.
“When you get sore and you play that many games, it becomes mental more than physical, and I think we did a good job of overcoming that tonight,” Granger said.
Sloan was disappointed in Utah’s atypically poor effort and said Indiana looked more prepared to play.
“It’s mind-boggling to me that we didn’t have more energy than we had,” he said. “They had all the energy. They looked fresh. They looked like they were having fun playing. They came out and dominated the ballgame.”
Indiana C Troy Murphy earned the start after coming off the bench and scoring 20 points Friday. He finished with five points and five rebounds before fouling out in 25 minutes. He missed Wednesday’s loss to Washington with a sore left Achilles’ tendon. It’s the same injury that sidelined him for the first three games of the season. … Granger, Dunleavy and Tinsley are the only Pacers to play in every game. … Utah G Deron Williams had six assists and six turnovers. … Indiana has won eight of its past 10 against the Jazz . … Indiana’s bench scored 52 points.