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Pacers 104, Bucks 98: Back to One

The Pacers hit the reset button after last night's debacle in Philly and put together a solid road win against the Bucks, 104-98. Thanks to a Magic loss the Pacers are again one game out of a playoff spot.

It's rarely easy for the Pacers and tonight was no different. The Bucks made a solid run at the W in the fourth and gave the Pacers plenty of chances to choke the game away. But, with seven seconds remaining and a two point lead, Mike Dunleavy stepped up and hit two free throws to put the Pacers up four. After rebounding a Bucks miss, Dunleavy capped the game off by hitting two more, which left him with 25 points for the game. Big ups to Danny Granger who hit his first shot and went on from there to put up a nice bounce-back game with 18 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds. Granger and Dun putting up those numbers while J.O. puts up an average 16 and 9 night with four blocks is a good recipe for a Pacer W.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Keith McCleod who has started the past four games while Tinsley has been on the shelf. McCleod has been the forgotten, throw-in piece of the Jack/Al trade. He was injured and then when healthy his minutes were as light as they were sporadic. The past couple of weeks he has proven his worth as an NBA point guard. He doesn't need to put up big numbers for the Pacers, just be solid with the ball and play solid defense. Tonight he had 11 points and one turnover in 31 minutes. In the four games he's started, McCleod has only turned the ball over eight times. A pro is ready to go at a moment's notice no matter how little he's been playing. McCleod's contributions in Tinsley's absence have shown he can be counted on to be ready and willing to step up when his number is called.

The Pacers have a night off before heading to Miami for the next huge game of the season. Stealing one against the Heat would really strengthen the Pacers' chances of catching the Magic.