Game Rewind: Pacers 107, Timberwolves 103
In the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Pacers led by as many as 27 points. In the fourth quarter, that lead shrunk to to just one as the cheers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse quickly turned to nervous spectating.
With one minute remaining and the Timberwolves pushing the ball up the floor, Zach LaVine fumbled a pass out of bounds, giving Indiana the ball with 50 seconds left in the game. Monta Ellis, using a pick from Lavoy Allen, drove to the hoop and put in a layup with his left hand to push their lead to three. On the other end, still facing a one-possession game, Ellis forced the ball to come loose and blocked the shot, resulting in a Pacers fastbreak that ended with C.J. Miles getting fouled and sent to the free throw line, where he made 1-of-2. Enough to extended Indiana’s lead to four.
“They are an explosive team with young guys who never quit on games,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel explained after the game. “They took all their bigs out, went with five 3-point shooters and opened up the game. We get a lead and we have to keep scoring, keep attacking.”
Needing a score, the Timberwolves turned to Andrew Wiggins, who had 26 points on the night, but his 3-pointer missed the rim entirely, allowing the Pacers to seal the 107-103 win; their sixth win in their last seven games.
LaVine made things interesting with six seconds left when he drilled a deep 3-pointer, but Ellis’ free throw on the other end put the Pacers back in front by four points once more, which proved to be the final margin of victory.
As the T’Wolves continued to rally in the fourth quarter, the Pacers tried to parry the runs, but were unable to gain traction for long stretches of play, such as a nearly five-minute period of play in which Indiana was unable to score a field goal. In the first 7:30 of the final quarter, Indiana scored just four points.
“Giving up 30 points in the fourth is unacceptable,” Paul George said. “We were aware this team was going to keep coming and that’s what they did.”
But after a LaVine layup with 4:31 remaining, which cut the Pacers’ lead to just three, Glenn Robinson III nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to push Indiana’s lead up to seven.
“It’s surprising for a young player to make steady, solid plays,” Vogel said. “I feel good every time he’s out there.”
It seemed at the time that Robinson’s shot would be the final dagger the Pacers needed to topple the Timberwolves, but Minnesota had other plans.
A 3-pointer from Nemanja Bjelica, followed by a layup from Wiggins made the score 101-100, the closest margin since the second quarter.
On the next possession, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel subbed in Lavoy Allen for Ian Mahinmi, and Ellis and Allen executed a pick-and-roll which led to Ellis’ game-securing layup with 41 seconds on the clock.
“I’ve been feeling good the last four or five games. Hopefully I can be more consistent with it. The shots were going in tonight,” said Ellis, who finished the night with 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting.
The driving layup from Ellis, coupled with George’s game-high 29 points, proved to be enough for Indiana to escape with a win on a night where its lead shrunk by 26 points in the final 16 minutes of play.
Although the first half featured seven ties and five lead changes, the second and third quarters belonged to the Pacers, as they outscored Minnesota 66-46 over that stretch. First it was George Hill, hitting a 3-pointer to give the Pacers a lead late in the second. Then on the next sequence, a PG-Ellis fastbreak ended with an Ellis dunk, putting Indiana up by three. From there, they pushed their lead to the game-high 27.
But the fourth and final quarter proved to be a challenge for the Pacers, as Minnesota outscored them 30-17.
But thankfully for Indiana, Ellis executed the pick-and-roll to perfection, and PG, Miles, and Ellis all helped close out the game with free throws.
The win might not have been as pretty as it looked like it would be in the third quarter, but it will show up as another check in the win column just the same. A column that Indiana has found itself in quite a bit over their last seven games.
Inside the Numbers
Paul George, who has continued to be as reliable as Old Faithful on offense over the past six games, once again filled up the stat sheet scoring a game-high 29 points. This six-game stretch is most consecutive games he’s scored 25 or more points in his entire career.
The Pacers are two games above .500 for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
Paul George and Monta Ellis combined for 53 of the Pacers’ 107 points
Glenn Robinson III was playing against his former team tonight and he fittingly scored his career high with 11. None of Robinson’s 11 points were bigger than the 3-pointer he hit with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
What They’re Saying
“We can’t take teams lightly. Giving up 30 points in the fourth is unacceptable. We were aware this team was going to keep coming and that’s what they did. They’re a young team, a lot of talent, they don’t give up.” -Paul George
“We were expecting them to come back. The biggest thing was we made plays down the stretch when we had to and we closed the game out.” -Monta Ellis
“No question he is a great player. It was fun to match up against him. I was very impressed by him as a defensive player. Everybody knows he can score, but he’s a really, really well-rounded player.” -Andrew Wiggins on Paul George
Stat of the Night
The Pacers’ 37-point second quarter was the most points Indiana has scored in any quarter this season.
- Rodney Stuckey (sprained ankle) did not play for the second straight game
- After scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds in the first quarter, Timberwolves rookie Karl-Anthony Towns finished with just nine rebounds and 12 points.
- Former Pacers player Damjan Rudeż got seven minutes of playing time for the Timberwolves on Friday night, but did not have any field goal attempts.
- With 12 points and nine rebounds, Ian Mahinmi was one board away from his first double-double of the season
@by Greg Rappaport