Granger, Dunleavy lead Pacers past Suns 122-114
INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Indiana’s formula for victory this week has been simple: fall behind by more than 20 points, then stage a frantic rally to win.
It was the second straight game the Pacers trailed by more than 20 points in the second quarter and won. Indiana was down 23 against Toronto on Monday night before rallying for a victory.
“One of these days, we’ll get a lead,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “That’s another tremendous, gutsy comeback for our team.”
Dunleavy made 9 of 14 shots, including 4 of 7 3-pointers, in 26 minutes.
Granger and Dunleavy both have been prolific scorers in recent years, but it was the first time both scored more than 30 points in a game since Dunleavy was traded to Indiana in January of 2007.
“Over the last couple years, we’ve figured out a way to play together and we understand each other offensively,” Dunleavy said. “Hopefully, we can keep playing that way the rest of the season because it’s tough to guard us.”
Dunleavy hadn’t scored 30 or more points since the final game of the 2007-08 season. He scored 36 points five times that season and averaged a career-high 19.1.
He missed most of last season and part of this season because of a knee injury, but looked like the Dunleavy of old against the Suns.
“It’s good to see Mike back in the form he was a couple years ago when he was putting up big numbers,” Granger said.
Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 21 points. Steve Nash(notes) had 20 points and nine assists, despite missing more than a quarter with a busted lip. Nash got seven stitches after taking an elbow from Indiana’s Earl Watson late in the first quarter, but he returned for the second half.
“Just stepped in to take a charge and took an elbow in the lip,” Nash said. “It spread open.”
Nash was still bleeding after the game.
“It’s not the worst thing in the world,” he said.
The loss hurt Nash, too.
“We let them get the momentum, and we couldn’t stop the bleeding,” he said. “They got their confidence up, and for some reason, our level of play drops. We gave up too many points in the third and fourth quarters. Can’t expect to win too many games that way.”
The Pacers led by one in the fourth quarter before Granger and Dunleavy made back-to-back 3-pointers to give Indiana a 118-111 lead with 2:07 to play.
Nash made a 3-pointer with 1:40 left, but Granger answered with a mid-range jumper to extend the lead to 120-114 with 47.3 seconds remaining. Nash missed from long range, and Dunleavy made two free throws at the other end to seal it.
Watson elbowed Nash on a drive to the basket with just over four minutes left in the first quarter. A Suns spokeswoman said a tooth went through Nash’s upper lip. He received four stitches on his upper lip and three on the inside of his mouth.
The Suns outscored the Pacers 49-38 the rest of the first half while Nash was out. At one point, the Suns led 58-34.
Indiana opened the second half on an 18-9 run, including 13 points by Dunleavy in a five-minute span, to cut Phoenix’s lead to 77-70 and force a timeout.
Dunleavy scored 18 points in the quarter.
“That was amazing,” Granger said. “When you have that kind of production from your bench, the sky’s the limit. Your starters have to take care of business, then you have a power punch coming off the bench.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Granger in the final minute of the period gave the Pacers a 91-89 lead. Leandro Barbosa(notes) made two free throws with 3.5 seconds left to tie the game heading into the fourth quarter.
The Pacers held the Suns to 26 percent shooting in the third quarter.
“Just a little more sense of urgency,” Dunleavy said. “I don’t know if it just takes us a while to settle in and figure out our opponents. Once we get it down, we do a pretty good job.”
O’Brien said the Pacers could be starting to find a rhythm after being riddled with injuries. Granger and Dunleavy, who had the team’s top two scoring averages the past two years, have missed a combined 30 games this season.
“I think things are definitely starting to turn,” O’Brien said. “We’ve got to sustain it.”
NOTES: Pacers PG T.J. Ford(notes) was inactive for the second time this season because of a coach’s decision. He has started 25 games. It was the sixth straight game he hasn’t played. Ford says he’s healthy. … Pacers C Jeff Foster(notes) sat out with an injured back. He hopes to be back within two weeks. … Pacers F Tyler Hansbrough(notes) made his first career start. He scored three points in 10 minutes.