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Granger continues scoring spree, pours in 44 to quiet Jazz

INDIANAPOLIS -- With victory assured, Danny Granger's next goal was to score 50 points.

The versatile forward didn't quite get there, but he scored 18 of his career-high 44 points in the fourth quarter to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Utah Jazz 122-106 on Friday night.

"I was trying to get 50, but I just ran out of gas at the end," he said, laughing. "I missed some free throws, too. Overall, I'm glad we won."

It was the fourth straight game in which Granger has scored at least 30 points. He made 14 of 23 attempts from the floor, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

He made a 3-pointer from the right corner early in the fourth quarter and was fouled. He converted the four-point play, and didn't let up from there.

"I felt something special was going on for me when I got that four-point play," he said.

Granger missed 16 straight games early in the season with an injured right heel. That slowed his ability to mesh with his teammates, many of whom were new.

"I think the 17 games that he missed and basically 25 percent of the games that he's missed so far hurt his rhythm," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "He started off slowly, but when he would normally kick it in, he was hurt, then he had to get readjusted."

He clearly is in a rhythm now.

"He knows how to get open, he can shoot the ball, he can put it on the floor," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "He's a terrific player. You can't come halfway with him, you've got to out your whole load out there to guard him, and then you're still not going to stop him."

Troy Murphy added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Pacers, who set a franchise record with 17 3-pointers. Indiana overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half to win its fifth straight overall and seventh in a row at home.

Indiana shot 51 percent overall.

"Our defense was non-existent," Sloan said. "They did a great job of getting people open and they got on a roll. We couldn't shut them down."

Mehmet Okur had 27 points and 12 rebounds, Carlos Boozer had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Deron Williams added 21 points and 12 assists for Utah, which allowed its highest point total of the season.

It was a disappointing effort for Utah, which is fighting for first place in the Northwest Division.

"I just thought we would come with more energy," Sloan said. "They seemed to have tremendous energy. They seemed to get stronger and more determined as the game wore on."

Utah shot 51 percent in the first half and led 61-54 at the break.

The Jazz extended their lead to 70-58 early in the third quarter, but Indiana got a 3-pointer from Murphy and a three-point play by Roy Hibbert to stay close. A pair of free throws by A.J. Price trimmed Utah's lead to 71-66.

Indiana again trimmed its deficit to five before Williams made a 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key while falling, then a layup during a 7-0 run that put the Jazz up 80-68 with just under five minutes left in the third quarter.

The Pacers responded with a 10-0 run that prompted a Utah timeout. Indiana then closed the quarter strong. Hibbert scored on a reverse layup, and Earl Watson lobbed to Josh McRoberts for a thunderous two-handed alley-oop dunk to give the Pacers an 87-83 lead heading into the fourth.

Indiana kept it going in the final quarter. Granger followed his four-point play with another 3-pointer, and a jumper by Watson made it 96-83 before the Jazz called time-out to try to regroup after a 28-3 Indiana run.

They couldn't.

"We just were persistent," Granger said. "We kept grinding back at them and kept grinding back at them. We just stayed true to our gameplan, and it worked tonight."

Game notes
Hibbert started after missing Wednesday's game against Washington with a sprained jaw. He finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five blocks. ... Pacers G T.J. Ford sat out with a strained left groin. O'Brien said he hasn't been practicing. ... Watson went down with a busted upper lip with 11:31 left in the third. He received two stitches and returned with 2:31 left in the quarter.