Dunleavy, Pacers avoid late collapse vs. Bosh, Raptors

INDIANAPOLIS -- Mike Dunleavy's legs may not be completely healthy.

Fortunately for Indiana, his wit is all there.

The poised veteran goaded Toronto's Chris Bosh into fouling him on a 3-pointer with less than a minute to go Friday night, then made all three free throws to help the Pacers avoid another monumental late-game collapse with a 111-104 victory.

"I keep telling these guys, they've got to start embracing the moment down the stretch," he said. "Instead of fearing it or dreading it, let's go out there and embrace it, relish it and take advantage of it."

Dunleavy gave the young Pacers a firsthand demonstration of what he meant.

After starting the fourth quarter with a 24-point lead, Indiana watched helplessly as Toronto got itself back into the game. By the 1:13 mark, the Raptors were within 100-99.

That's when Dunleavy outwitted everyone.

He appeared to be lining up for a 3-pointer, but instead of taking the shot he put the ball on the floor and drew the onrushing Bosh to the wing. When Dunleavy saw Bosh, he immediately backed up behind the arc and launched himself right into Bosh's arm for the foul.

While Bosh complained to the referee, Dunleavy calmly sank all three free throws and sealed Toronto's fate.

"Mike is real savvy, he got his man up in the air and converted all three free throws," Pacers forward Danny Granger said. "That was great for us, that put us back up four. That pretty much put us over the top."

Dunleavy, who has missed all but six of the Pacers' 40 games, made only his second start of the season Friday. Not surprisingly, the Pacers have pulled out wins in both games, and he matched his season-high with 22 points against Toronto.

Only Granger scored more points. He led the Pacers with 23 and had five rebounds, four assists and two steals despite spending the equivalent of a full quarter on the bench because of foul trouble and making only one of eight shots in the final 12 minutes.

Bosh's big night was tainted by that ill-advised foul. The two-time All-Star had 25 points and 16 rebounds, and Andrea Bargnani added 20 points for Toronto, which has lost four straight.

The loss also ruined the homecoming of Jermaine O'Neal. The former Pacers All-Star made his first trip to Conseco Fieldhouse since being traded to the Raptors last summer and made his first appearance in 10 games. He'd been out with a bruised right knee.

O'Neal played only 17 minutes, finished with two points, no baskets and spent the fourth quarter icing his knees. Worse, he was greeted by slightly more boos than cheers each time he entered the game.

"People feel like I betrayed them," O'Neal said. "I thought ultimately the agreement between me and the franchise was that they wanted to start over. I never knew that I was the issue. People that boo, to be honest, I really don't care."

Indiana took control by outscoring Toronto 26-12 before halftime to build a 56-42 lead. The Pacers then opened the third quarter on a 9-3 run and extended the lead to 89-65 after three.

But just when it seemed the Pacers were about to end their long stretch of close games, things changed. Indiana went 6-of-21 from the field in the fourth quarter, and the Raptors methodically closed the gap.

Midway through the quarter Toronto was within 96-85, and when Anthony Parker made two free throws with 4:07 to go, Indiana's lead was down to 96-91.

The Pacers responded with two quick baskets, but Toronto scored eight straight points including Parker's 17-footer with 1:13 to go to close to 100-99.

Dunleavy sensed the Pacers were pressing and finally took matters into his own hands.

He drew the foul, hit the free throws to make it 103-99 and saved the Pacers from another embarrassing loss. They blew a 26-point lead in a loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 20.

The Raptors never got closer than three the rest of the way.

"It's like riding a bike, you don't forget how to play," Dunleavy said. "What am I going to do, ease my way back into it? We're 15-25 and we don't have time for that."

Game notes
The Raptors were 29-of-38 from the free-throw line, slightly lower than their league-leading 82.8 percent. ... Indiana came within a whisker of holding its first opponent under 100 points in nearly a month. ... Toronto's franchise record for the largest comeback was 22, set against Washington in 1996 and matched against Washington in 2005.