Dunleavy's 32 points help Pacers end three-game slide

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The more abuse Mike Dunleavy takes, the more damage he does.

Dunleavy twice left Tuesday's game because of injuries and returned both times, finishing with 32 points to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Seattle SuperSonics 114-107.

It's been the best season of Dunleavy's six-year NBA career, but it's been a rough road. He's had his lip split open, and a scar remains. He's taken numerous hits and spills throughout the season, but hasn't missed a game.

In Tuesday's game, he left for 5½ minutes in the second quarter after spraining his left ankle, then left again briefly in the third quarter after Seattle's Jeff Green elbowed him in the nose. Dunleavy scored 12 points in 13 minutes after the shot to the face.

"I've never had these issues before, but I guess over the course of hundreds of NBA games, it's bound to catch up with you," Dunleavy said.

His effort helped send the Sonics to their fifth straight loss.

Even though the Pacers are 14 games under .500, they still have something to play for. The Pacers entered the night just two games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Dunleavy is one of the key reasons the Pacers are even thinking about the playoffs. He has scored 30 or more points in four of his past 10 games, and has tied his career high of 36 points twice in that stretch.

"I only surprise myself when I don't do well," he said. "I know what I'm capable of, and I feel like I've gotten an opportunity to shine here. I'm just going to keep it going and help this team in every possible way to get in the postseason."

Dunleavy shot 10-for-16 from the field and made four of five 3-pointers.

"He took advantage of matchups," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "When he had smaller guys on him, he shot over them. He moved well without the ball. He beat us a couple times on open cuts to the basket.

"We just weren't able to control him to the extent that you need to. We needed to make him work a little harder than we did."

Danny Granger added 23 points, Troy Murphy had 19 points and nine rebounds and Travis Diener had 11 points and nine assists for the Pacers.

Kevin Durant scored 27 points and reserve Nick Collison added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Sonics.

Dunleavy left with 4:06 left in the third quarter after getting elbowed.

"I just got hit right across the nose, and it started bleeding," he said. "What can you do? That stuff happens."

He returned moments later and scored seven points the rest of the period to give the Pacers a spark.

Durant hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the third quarter, but Indiana led 86-82.

The Pacers led 90-87 early in the fourth quarter before going on a 6-0 run that included baskets by Dunleavy, Flip Murray and Kareem Rush to take a 96-87 lead with 8:10 to play. The Pacers weren't threatened from there.

Durant shot 7-for-14 from the field and 12-for-13 from the free-throw line.

"Durant can and probably will be a great player," Murphy said. "He has the tools to do it all. He will be tough."

Seattle shot 51 percent from the field, but the Pacers collected 13 offensive rebounds and scored 22 second-chance points. Indiana outrebounded the Sonics 44-36.

"Energy was not a problem tonight," he said. "We had an Indiana problem. Our guys competed with a good offensive game, but could not get a stop."

It was Seattle's sixth straight road game, and they've only won once.

"We have been on a long road trip before," he said. "It's just a matter of us doing the little things on defense."

The Pacers hope to build a winning streak, but their next two games are at Dallas and at Orlando.

"It's a race for that eighth spot, and we have to win a lot of these games," Granger said. "These two games against Dallas and Orlando, they could really turn us around because we're not favored to win."

Game notes
Indiana F Jermaine O'Neal has missed 24 straight games with a bruised left knee. Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said he's been shooting with the team, but nothing else. ... Indiana G Jamaal Tinsley has missed 18 of the last 21 games with a sore left knee. ... Pacers C David Harrison returned from a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. He sat out Saturday's game against Cleveland, but came back with four points, six rebounds and a career-high six blocks in 19 minutes against Seattle. ... Sonics G Earl Watson picked up a technical early in the third quarter.