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Pacers send Knicks to sixth straight loss

NEW YORK (AP) -- If the Indiana Pacers do trade Ron Artest, Danny
Granger is ready to step up.

Jermaine O'Neal scored 31 points, including the go-ahead basket
with 1:56 left, and Granger had the best game of his rookie season
as the Pacers beat New York 102-96 on Saturday night, handing the
Knicks their season-high sixth straight loss.

"I think Danny Granger was the key to our success tonight,"
O'Neal said. "When things got tough and we needed big plays,
whether offense or defense, he made that play."

Jamaal Tinsley added 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds
for the Pacers, who have won four of five overall and snapped a
two-game road losing streak.

"We know that right now from a personnel standpoint we're not
at our best, but there's a lot you can make up for with a strong
collective effort and a strong belief in one other," Pacers coach
Rick Carlisle said.

Granger scored a season-high 12 points, all in the second half.
He played a season-high 29 minutes, mostly because starting small
forward Stephen Jackson sprained his right thumb in the first half
and did not play after halftime.

Granger, the 17th pick from New Mexico, could be seeing more
minutes if the Pacers honor Artest's request to be traded. Artest's
agent said Saturday his client now wants to remain in Indiana, but
if there is a trade, Granger says he is ready.

"I'm definitely ready for that to happen, 'cause I always want
to play more minutes," Granger said. "Ron was my mentor, he
taught me a lot of things and I'd love to continue to play with
him. But if a trade is going to happen, it gives me an
opportunity."

Indiana's first-round pick also had three huge blocks in the
fourth quarter.

Stephon Marbury scored 25 points for the Knicks, but had a
costly turnover with 39 seconds left and New York trailing by
three. Jamal Crawford added 15 points and Quentin Richardson had
12.

New York led 94-91 when Granger blocked Marbury's drive for his
third block of the period, leading to two free throws by Tinsley
with 3 minutes left. Neither team scored again until O'Neal gave
Indiana the lead for good at 95-94 with his go-ahead dunk after a
timeout.

Granger also showed he could provide some of the defense the
Pacers miss without Artest. He had a block that Tinsley turned into
a layup for a three-point lead midway through the quarter, and
added another one on Crawford with the game tied at 91 with 4
minutes to go.

"It was real big," Tinsley said. "That's defense, that's
chemistry on the defensive end. One guy blows past you and you know
you've got a teammate who can step up and help you."

The Knicks lost their first five games of the season, their
first under Larry Brown. They fell to 6-17.

"I never accept losing. It's killing me," Brown said. "I feel
bad for our fans, I feel bad for our team and ownership for the
responsibility they gave me. I asked those guys to do the right
thing and they did tonight without exception."

Leading by one in the second quarter, the Knicks got a spark
from rookie David Lee during a 10-2 run that gave them a 46-37 lead
with 1:56 remaining in the half. Lee, who had been inactive for the
last seven games, came off the bench to score four points during
the burst on a follow shot and a dunk.

New York led 48-44 at halftime, one night after giving up 71
points in the first half of a 122-111 loss in Atlanta. The Knicks
took a 73-71 lead into the fourth quarter after Maurice Taylor and
Crawford closed the third with consecutive three-point plays in the
final minute.

Knicks center Eddy Curry missed his second straight game after
spraining his left ankle late in Thursday's practice. Also, rookie
guard Nate Robinson was inactive after playing in all 22 games,
starting six. Brown said Thursday he never expected Robinson would
play much this season.

Game notes
Former Pacers star Reggie Miller sat courtside with
director and Knicks fan Spike Lee. Miller, who hit plenty of big
shots against the Knicks during his career, was booed when he was
shown on the overhead scoreboard in the closing minutes. "I tried
to get him to suit up," said Brown, a former Pacers coach. ... The
Pacers played without guard Fred Jones, who has a sprained left
ankle that Carlisle did not think was serious.