INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Danny Granger sat at his locker, worn out and tired.
He was dragging all day after taking medicine to help him get some rest, but it may have been too much for the Indiana Pacers forward.
“It just slowed me down basically the whole time,” Granger said. “It was supposed to help me sleep, but it kept me groggy the whole day. I was waiting for it to wear off and I started the game and I still was kind of groggy.”
He got energized just in time to score 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to help lead the Pacers to a 104-99 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
And in time to keep his All-Star campaign on track.
Darren Collison shot 10 of 14 from the floor and scored a game-high 25 points and added five assists for the Pacers, who bounced back from an 85-81 loss to the Orlando Magic and have never lost two in a row this season.
The Jazz came back from being down 21 points to take a lead in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers were up 57-46 at halftime and then opened the second half on a 10-4 run. Collison scored six points and Paul George, who had 14 points and five rebounds, scored on a lay-up and a dunk before Granger had a layup to give the Pacers a 21-point lead.
Then, the Jazz made a run.
“We got relaxed and we got too comfortable and it came back to bite us,” Granger said. “We let our guard down, and they made a run, and it almost cost us the game.”
Raja Bell scored a 3-pointer to spark a 17-4 run by the Jazz to get within eight.
Gordon Hayward, whose homecoming in Indianapolis was welcomed by loud cheers during introductions, scored six points in the run. He had 11 points on the night.
“On the road, you just can’t afford dig yourselves a hole like we did,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “You spend so much energy trying to get back. We did take a lead, which is a positive, we just didn’t make the plays at the end.”
The Jazz trailed 84-77 at the end of the third quarter and scored eight straight to take a lead in the fourth, but were never able to pull away.
“I just think it’s a combination of things,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We had a couple of plays at the rim where we didn’t finish layups, we got a couple of bad calls, and we lightened up a little bit on the defensive end. It was a combination of those that led to a comeback like that. But the bottom line is we made the plays at crunch time.”
And it was in crunch time when Granger took control—at least enough to keep the Pacers in the game.
Granger scored to give Indiana back the lead at 86-85. After Derrick Favors scored, Granger came right back and made it 88-87. C.J. Miles gave the Jazz the lead again, but Granger came back again to make it 90-89.
The Jazz took a 95-92 lead with 3:47 left and Roy Hibbert, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds, was fouled on a shot next to the post and went to the line to tie the game.
After Paul George made a 3-pointer to put the Pacers up 98-95, the Jazz missed two shots and turned the ball over before Collison made it 100-95. Granger sealed it at the foul line to give the Pacers a five-point lead with 10.6 seconds left.
The Pacers took a 13-point lead at one point in the second quarter and led by 11 at halftime. Collison scored 17 points in the first half, mostly driving to the basket. All but two of his seven shots in the first half were near the basket.
“I know how to do it, to be aggressive and score sometimes,” Collison said. “But this year I’ve tried to be more of a facilitator and try to get my teammates involved. At times I can be aggressive and penetrate like I did.”
Collison and Granger are two of six Pacers players on the All-Star ballot this season. Granger’s work Tuesday night certainly didn’t go unnoticed by Corbin.
“He’s a big part of what they do,” Corbin said. “We knew at some point they were going to get the ball in his hands and he was going to take some shots. He’s one of the key players for them and he’s going to get some shots.”
Even Vogel is taking the time to make sure his players get noticed.
“We’ve sent emails out and make phone calls and we definitely want the coaches around the league to understand the sacrifices our guys have made to buy into the team approach and how it’s led to winning,” Vogel said. “And particularly the things we’ve done on the defensive end. I don’t’ want that to go unnoticed.”
And for Granger, that’s enough of the sleep aids.
“No more of that medicine,” Granger said. “I took some bad medication.”
Notes: Jazz G Jamaal Tinsley didn’t travel with the team for what the team said was a personal reason.