Granger leads five Indiana players in double figures

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The more Danny Granger plays, the better the Indiana Pacers rookie gets.

Granger came off the bench to score 21 points, leading five Indiana players in double figures as the Pacers held off Orlando 97-83 on Monday night.

Granger also got 12 rebounds. Anthony Johnson scored 21 points, Peja Stojakovic and David Harrison 14 each and Jamaal Tinsley 12.

"I'm feeling more comfortable out there every night," said Granger, the 17th overall pick from New Mexico. "Before, I wasn't looking to shoot. Now, I'm much more aggressive. I'm looking for the rebound. I'm looking for the good shot."

Dwight Howard, who scored 22 and had 11 rebounds for Orlando, said Granger and Harrison made the difference.

"Those two guys really stepped up tonight," he said. "Harrison is really tough to keep out of the low post. He's a strong guy.

"Granger really hit some big shots at key times, and he really seemed confident in his shots."

Granger was 9-for-12 from the field and scored nine straight points near the end of the third quarter as the Pacers took a 66-60 lead late in the period.

Harrison did the same thing in the fourth quarter, scoring nine straight to lead the Pacers on an 11-4 run that produced a 77-70 lead with 6:45 to play.

"I thought Danny Granger's shotmaking in the first half was a real key," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "It got us the lead. In the second half, David was seemingly able to will the ball in the basket. Those were big plays, because Orlando was coming back on us."

Orlando drew within 80-77 with 4:57 remaining, but Granger and Stojakovic hit jumpers and Tinsley drove the lane for a basket.

Magic coach Brian Hill agreed with everybody else.

"We had a tie game, and gave up two consecutive offensive rebounds to David Harrison for five points," he said. "And that set the tone for the end of the game. Danny Granger and David Harrison were the difference in the game tonight. We didn't have an answer for them."

With Howard dominating inside, the Magic took a 19-13 lead midway through the first quarter. But the Pacers finished the period with an 11-4 burst, then continued by scoring the first 10 points of the second quarter.

Granger scored six of those points and Fred Jones the other four as Indiana took a 34-23 lead. Stacey Augmon snapped the Magic's skid by hitting a follow 7:50 before the half.

Indiana led 38-27 before Howard made two baskets, and the Magic scored seven straight points to cut the deficit to 38-34.

Game notes
Pacers guard Fred Jones returned for the first time since tearing a ligament in his left thumb against the Knicks on March 7. ... Pacers forward Austin Croshere missed his 18th straight game after suffering a concussion Jan. 31 at Washington. ... Howard's 22 points and 11 rebounds give him 45 double-doubles this season, third highest in the NBA, and the most by any player in the Eastern Conference. ... Stojakovic hit all four of his free throws, running his streak to 31. He leads the NBA with a percentage of 92.7.