NBA Game Summary - Minnesota at Indiana
(Saturday, January 2nd)
Final Score: Indiana 122, Minnesota 111
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Roy Hibbert and Luther Head each finished with 21 points, as the Indiana Pacers avoided blowing a large lead to beat the Timberwolves, 122-111.
The Pacers had lost a season-high eight in a row entering Saturday's contest and looked to be in good shape to snap that streak after building a 73-45 halftime lead. Their lead was down to five with just under two minutes to play, but Indiana held on to get its first win since December 16.
"We came out with good energy, didn't have to dig ourselves out of a deep hole," Hibbert said. "We were having fun and playing good basketball."
Brandon Rush added 16 points while Mike Dunleavy scored 15 with eight rebounds in the victory.
Al Jefferson had a game-high 23 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost four in a row. Wayne Ellington and Kevin Love each ended with 16 points in the loss.
"We just didn't come to play tonight," Love said. "We were stuck in the mud."
Despite trailing by 28 at halftime, Minnesota got back into the game with a torrid third quarter. The T'Wolves made 12-of-24 from the field in the frame, as well as 15-of-17 from the free throw line.
Many of those foul shots came in the later stages of the third during a 12-0 run, which Jefferson ended with a jumper to cut Minnesota's deficit to 92-77 with 2:20 to play.
Ramon Sessions then ended the frame with four foul shots and a jumper to get the T'Wolves within 98-85, and they got within single digits past the midway point of the fourth thanks to Ellington.
The rookie scored seven in a row, ending the run with a jumper that got Minnesota within 111-103 with 3:54 to play. Hibbert followed with a hook shot, but Jonny Flynn came back with a three on the next T'Wolves possession.
With 1:50 left, Flynn made two free throws to get Minnesota within 113-108, though after each team missed a shot, Head sank a key jumper. At the other end, Love converted a three-point play with 52.9 on the clock, cutting Indiana's lead to 115-111.
But Earl Watson put an effective end to Minnesota's comeback hopes when, on the ensuing Pacers possession, he sank an underhand layup as he was fouled, then made the free throw. The seven-point deficit was too much for the T'Wolves to make up with 33 seconds left, and they didn't make a shot the rest of the way.
"It just proved that if we had started the game the way we finished it, we would have won easily," Jefferson said. "None of that matters. We still lost."
Indiana held a 32-26 lead after the first quarter, and used a monster second quarter to built its big advantage. The Pacers sank 17-of-28 shots, including five three-pointers, to end with 41 points in the frame.
Dunleavy's three capped a nine-point burst just past the midway point of the quarter, pushing Indiana's lead to 58-32. The Pacers' advantage reached a game-high 29 points several times, including when Solomon Jones hit a jumper with 20.4 left to make it a 73-44 game, though Flynn made 1-of-2 from the line to end the half.
Indiana's 73 first-half points were more than the team had scored in an entire game earlier this season. The Pacers dropped an 88-72 decision to the Clippers in LA on December 5...Watson finished with 12 points and nine assists...Flynn had 14 points, while Sessions scored 10 for the T'Wolves.
01/02 23:05:21 ET