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Granger shines as Pacers clinch playoff spot


Agence France-Presse



INDIANAPOLIS?Danny Granger scored 25 points Wednesday to help the Indiana Pacers clinch their first NBA playoff berth since 2006 with a 136-112 victory over Washington.
The Pacers needed a victory and a loss by the Charlotte Bobcats to Orlando to secure their postseason spot.

As Indiana's game ended, the Orlando-Charlotte game was in overtime, and staff at the Pacers' Conseco Fieldhouse put the game on the Jumbotron scoreboard.

Many fans stayed to cheer Orlando's 111-102 victory over the Wizards.

Paul George scored a career-high 23 points and Darren Collison added 15 points and 11 assists for the Pacers, whose 136 points were their second-highest total of the season.

The Pacers shot 60 percent from the field and the Wizards allowed the most points they have in a game this season.

"I'm just really, really happy for a lot of people," said Pacers interim coach Frank Vogel. "I'm so happy for our fans. It's going to be a fun ride."

Vogel had always talked as if he was sure his team would claim one of the Eastern Conference's eight playoff spots.

When they became the eighth team in, Granger said Vogel deserved much of the credit.

"It's a credit to Frank and his staff," Granger said. "Granted, we still have some problems, and we had some problems along the way, but with the time they had to rehaul the team and do things differently, I think they did a great job."

There's a good chance the Pacers will end up facing Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.

The Bulls host Boston on Thursday in a game that could have a big impact on the race for the top seed in the East.

"I think it's going to be a zoo in here on Thursday," Chicago's Joakim Noah said. "It's very exciting."

Chicago are three games ahead of Boston atop the conference with Miami also chasing.

Miami's bid to grab the top spot suffered a blow Wednesday when they fell 90-85 to Milwaukee.

John Salmons scored 17 points and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks, whose victory pushed Miami a half-game behind Boston for the No.2 slot, with the Celtics holding the tiebreaker.

LeBron James scored 29 points for the Heat, who played without guard Dwyane Wade, the NBA's third-leading scorer. Wade is nursing a thigh bruise.

Chris Bosh added 18 points but no other Heat player scored in double figures.

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