Pacers keep Nets winless
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Danny Granger thought the Indiana Pacers had a rough start to the season.
Try telling that to the winless New Jersey Nets.
Granger scored 22 points, Roy Hibbert tied a career high with 19 and the Pacers dropped the Nets to 0-11 with a 91-83 victory Tuesday night.
Dahntay Jones added 17 points for the Pacers, who have won five straight after losing their first three games and can continue their turnaround Wednesday when they host another struggling team, the New York Knicks.
"After the losses it seems like it's the end of the world, especially when you start 0-3," Granger said. "But we stayed with it, got our first win in New York and we haven't looked back since."
No end in sight for the Nets, on their longest skid since dropping 11 in a row to end the 1999-00 season.
Chris Douglas-Roberts scored a career-high 27 points and Brook Lopez added 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Nets, who head to Milwaukee on Wednesday, still a long way from the record 17-game opening skids owned by the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers.
"It's nothing if we don't win," Douglas-Roberts said. "My numbers don't matter if we're losing because you are labeled a loser. It doesn't matter what you're doing on a losing team. Nobody really cares. I know I don't."
The Nets have been hit with a rash of injuries that again left them with the league minimum eight players in uniform. They contained an Indiana club that rang up 113 points against Boston on Saturday, but the NBA's second-lowest scoring team again didn't have nearly enough firepower.
Rafer Alston scored 14 points but was 2 of 12 from the field for the Nets, who were 1 of 11 from 3-point range.
The Pacers have their own injury problems, playing without Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Troy Murphy, but got some good news when T.J. Ford returned to the starting lineup after back spasms made him a reserve on Saturday.
Ford missed eight of 10 shots, but hit a jumper with 1:28 to go after the Nets had trimmed the lead to seven.
"People make a big deal out of the first three games," Hibbert said. "We have a lot of new guys this year, so we need some time to really jell, and we had a couple of injuries so I think we're adjusting right now."
Indiana opened both halves with 9-0 runs but wasted numerous chances to turn it into a blowout, making only 12 field goals across the middle two quarters and leading by only six with under 3 minutes remaining.
"It was definitely a marathon, not a sprint," Jones said. "We had to see if we could maintain it and keep that enthusiasm up on defense and offense, and we end up pulling the game out."
Playing without three starters, the Nets usually have managed to stay competitive before ultimately falling short. Their 81-80 loss in Miami on Saturday was probably the toughest, with Dwyane Wade hitting a 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left to win it not long after Quentin Richardson had banked in a tying 3.
"That one hurt more because I felt so (darn) bad for those guys," coach Lawrence Frank said before the game.
Hoping to end the skid, the Nets asked their fans to show support with a "10 is enough!" plan, giving each season-ticket holder two tickets to bring additional fans. But the announced attendance was only 11,332, and now there are still no wins.
Leading by eight at halftime, the Pacers quickly ran off nine straight points to open a 63-46 on Hibbert's follow dunk with 9:18 remaining in the third quarter. But their offense stalled from there, with the Nets using a 14-2 spurt to cut it to 65-60 before Indiana scored the final two points of the period on free throws.
Showing no letdown after the Boston victory, Indiana scored the first nine points and opened a 16-point lead on Solomon Jones' three-point play with 3:11 left in the first quarter. The Pacers led 31-21 after Earl Watson's jumper as time expired.
"We can't afford to give anyone a 31-point quarter," Frank said. "We understand we only have so many bullets. With eight guys, now you've got to battle that much harder. We played them even in the second half, but that first quarter, especially at home, we wish we would have done better than that."
Indiana pushed the lead back to 14 in the second quarter, but shot only 32 percent in the period as New Jersey cut it to 54-46 at halftime.
NOTES: The latest to join the Nets' injury list was F Eduardo Najera, who was out with a sore lower back. ... Indiana had scored at least 100 points in every game during its winning streak. ... Douglas-Roberts also had a career high with 12 rebounds.