Pacers punish Nuggets thanks to 54-point 3rd quarter

INDIANAPOLIS -- Josh McRoberts had no idea history was at stake when he launched a deep 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter.

If he did, he said he would have taken a different approach.

The Indiana Pacers made their first 20 shots of the third quarter, missing out on a perfect period when McRoberts was off on a 26-footer with 1.9 seconds left, and rolled to a 144-113 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.

On a night when little went wrong, McRoberts got some good-natured ribbing from his teammates after the game.

"I didn't know," McRoberts said. "I would have tried to pump-fake it a few more times, and maybe pass it to Mike [Dunleavy]. It's a good record to screw up, I guess."

Dunleavy would have been an ideal option. He scored 24 of his 31 points in the Pacers' 54-point third period. He also was unaware of the near-perfect quarter.

"I didn't realize it until after the fact, or else I probably would have gone over there and stole the ball from him [McRoberts]," Dunleavy joked. "But he had a nice game, so that made up for it."

The Pacers still set plenty of records. It was the highest-scoring quarter in team history, the fourth-highest total for a quarter in NBA history and tied for the second-most ever scored in a third quarter.

"That's a quarter of basketball that will be remembered for a long time," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said.

Dunleavy made all five of his 3-point attempts in the third quarter. Late in the quarter, the crowd began buzzing whenever he touched the ball.

"I don't know how many 3s he hit in a row, but it was like the old NBA Jam," Denver's Ty Lawson said.

Indiana, which shot 64 percent overall, led 113-76 at the end of the period.

"The dike broke, and the dam broke, and the flood hit us," Denver coach George Karl said. "We know that happens three or four times a year. Hopefully we can get better and respond against the Lakers on Thursday."

O'Brien had criticized Dunleavy for missing open shots, but the guard responded by making 9-of-13 field goals and 6-of-10 3-pointers.

"You just string a few in a row together, you get going, and it just goes from there," Dunleavy said. "My teammates did a good job of finding me, and I knocked down shots."

Darren Collison scored 29 points, Tyler Hansbrough had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Danny Granger added 19 points for the Pacers (3-3). Indiana set league season highs for points, field goals made and field-goal percentage.

"That's as much fun as you can have on a basketball court," O'Brien said. "I think that third quarter was terrific after a very good first half. I'm just very proud of the effort."

Lawson led Denver with 19 points and Arron Afflalo added 17. Carmelo Anthony scored 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting for the Nuggets (4-4).

Indiana shot 52 percent from the field in the first half to take a 59-49 lead at the break, but that was just the beginning. The Pacers had 17 assists in the record-setting third quarter.

"I think that was a key to us getting so hot," O'Brien said. "We just never took a bad shot in the third quarter. We always saw the open guy."

Granger had shot 8 for 31 from the field the past two games, but bounced back to go 8 for 10. The Pacers made 31-of-39 shots in the second half, and their largest lead was 39 points.

"We just have to sweep this one under the rug and know that we will see them again," Lawson said.

The Pacers turned Denver's coach into a fan.

"They made every shot," Karl said. "They were spectacular. They were fun to watch."

Game notes
Granger and Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings were honored before the game for winning gold medals at the World Championships. ... Denver F Al Harrington, who played his first six seasons with the Pacers, scored nine points. ... Pacers F-C Jeff Foster sat out with a sprained right ankle. ... Pacers G Brandon Rush scored 16 points in his first game since being suspended for the first five games of the season for violating the league's drug agreement.