Updated: January 9, 2010, 4:46 PM ET
Granger back in starting lineup
MINNEAPOLIS -- Pacers All-Star Danny Granger returned to Indiana's starting lineup in Friday night's 116-109 loss to Minnesota, one day after his coach ruled him out for this weekend's games.
Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said Thursday that Granger would miss games on Friday at Minnesota and Saturday at Oklahoma City. But an injured right heel that has kept him out of 16 straight games felt good enough in the morning for Granger to play against the Timberwolves.
Granger, who averaged 24.4 points and 6.1 rebounds in 17 games this season before he aggravated his injury on Dec. 5, finished with 19 points in the game.
The Pacers also got Troy Murphy back from a sprained ankle. He missed the previous four games. Murphy is averaging 13.8 points and 9.1 rebounds this season.
Indiana was 5-11 without the versatile Granger, who won the Most Improved Player award and made the All-Star team last season. He is the Pacers' top scorer and go-to player down the stretch, and is also a strong shot blocker who can play both small and power forward.
"We didn't have another guy like him that could space the court and be a power forward," O'Brien said before the game. "Now you can use Brandon Rush and Mike Dunleavy and Danny, which by far has been our best lineup to date. That's what we missed more than the apparent things."
O'Brien said he planned to ease Granger back into the rotation, closely monitoring his minutes in hopes of avoiding further injury.
"Danny's missed half of our games," O'Brien said. "You almost have a preseason mentality to play him in short stints and make sure that he's not obviously fatigued out there. That's when they're more vulnerable to injury."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report
I don't know if he's fully healthy....KD dropped 40 on him today, lol
Granger is a warrior... This injury was supposed to keep him out for at least two more weeks. It's great to have him AND Murphy back. We really struggled without him. Our offense had no flow. Now, hopefully we can win some games and at least be competitive on a consistent basis.
Yea... He had nothing for Durant. Not today lol. Durant abused everybody we had. He took turns abusing Granger, Dunleavy and Rush.
I was just happy to see my team at least compete though... Especially on the road. We were in the game and had a chance to win it.
It's ok...Durant can abuse anybody...