In the first game of back-to-back contests against the Timberwolves, the Pacers (26-15) bested Minnesota (15-25) 104-99 at Target Center on Wednesday. The Pacers have now won three straight games, their first win streak of three or more since they won five in a row from Dec. 11 to Dec. 20.
With 6:15 to play and Indiana holding on to a 90-87 lead, Domantas Sabonis collided with Shabazz Napier at the right elbow of the paint. After initially calling an offensive foul on Sabonis, the call was reversed to a double personal foul, allowing Indiana to retain possession. Five seconds later, McConnell connected on a jumper to give Indiana a 92-87 lead. It appeared to swing the momentum in Indiana’s favor.
Then, in presidential fashion, Malcolm Brogdon closed out the game with his clutch scoring. The first-year Pacer scored 10 of Indiana’s final 12 points to secure the win. He connected on one of two free throws with 9.0 seconds remaining to ice the game for the Blue & Gold.
Sabonis finished with 29 points, including a career-high 25 first-half points, and 13 rebounds to notch his 32nd double-double of the season. Brogdon added 21, six boards, and six assists, while Doug McDermott led all Pacers off the bench with 14.
Sabonis helped the Pacers keep the Timberwolves within striking distance in the early moments of the first. The big man found easy space in the paint with Karl-Anthony Towns sidelined due to a left knee sprain. His cutting finger-roll layup shot at the 6:57 mark of the first pulled Indiana to within one of Minnesota, 10-9, before the first timeout of the game.
Out of the timeout, Malcolm Brogdon grabbed Indiana its first lead, 11-10, on a tough one-legged teardrop shot from beyond the free-throw line. That would be the last lead they’d have in the first half.
With the score knotted at 16 apiece, former Indiana Hoosier Noah Vonleh pushed the Timberwolves in front by two with a hook shot. A Robert Covington three on their next possession then gave the squad a 21-16 lead over the Blue & Gold with 3:15 left in the first frame. Jeff Teague then connected on a floater to complete a 7-0 run for Minnesota.
But the Pacers’ second unit, led by Sabonis, would soon trim the lead down to one. The big man completed a three-point play in the paint, and snagged a second-chance layup on Indiana’s next possession to cut the deficit to 23-21 with 1:45 remaining. After two free throws from Teague, Justin Holiday connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing to cut the lead to 25-24.
But the Timberwolves finished the final minute by scoring five straight points, including a 3-pointer from Vonleh, to take a 30-24 lead into the second quarter.
Sabonis continued to put on a show down low in an effort to bring the Pacers back. The potential All-Star scored the Pacers’ first 14 points of the quarter to keep Indiana within striking distance. His 11th bucket in the paint kept Indiana at a 44-38 deficit with 6:33 remaining in the half.
As the Timberwolves threatened to go up by double-digits, Myles Turner nailed a 3-pointer to trim Indiana’s deficit to 52-46 with 2:56 left in the half. But Andrew Wiggins responded just 12 seconds later to push the Timberwolves lead back to eight.
After a brief timeout, Indiana managed to string together four straight points to bring the deficit to within four, 54-50, with 1:40 remaining. But that would be the closest they’d come before the half ended. A Wiggins 3-pointer followed by a massive baseline dunk from Josh Okogie gave the Timberwolves the 59-54 lead at the break.
Early in the third, it appeared as if the rest of the team got Sabonis’ message. Back-to-back layups from Jeremy Lamb and Brogdon brought Indiana back to within one 59-58 with 10:31 left in the third.
Despite Minnesota connecting on just two field goals in the first 5:52 of the third, Indiana just could not surpass them for the lead, at least not until Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders called a timeout at the 6:08 mark of the frame.
With Indiana trailing 65-64, they would rattle off six straight points to take a 70-65 lead with 3:56 left in the third. Saunders then quickly called another timeout in an effort to stop their momentum.
With 2:38 remaining, Turner slammed home a bounce pass from T.J. McConnell to maintain a two-possession lead, 72-68.
Later, with 19.7 seconds left in the third and the score tied 74-74, Doug McDermott connected on a cutting baseline layup to give Indiana a slim two-point advantage. But on the Timberwolves’ next possession, McConnell fouled Keita Bates-Diop beyond the arc. Bates-Diop connected on all three free throws to give Minnesota a 77-76 lead heading into the final frame.
The Blue & Gold did not let the Timberwolves escape. After a Bates-Diop three pushed Minnesota ahead 83-80, McDermott responded with his first three of the game to knot the score. On the next Pacers possession, Sabonis connected on another layup to give Indiana an 85-83 lead with 9:29 remaining.
McDermott’s trey appeared to give him a spark. With the score tied 85-85, he drew a from from beyond the arc and connected on all three free throws to give Indiana the three-point advantage. With 7:22 remaining, he added to his total, finishing a layup from a McConnell dish to push the Pacers’ lead to 90-95.
After the double-personal foul, Brogdon connected on a clutch 3-pointer from the left wing to push Indiana’s lead to 95-89. After Culver responded with a layup, he connected on a jumper from the right side to push the Pacers lead back to six. With 2:35 to go, Lamb then drove the lane against his former college teammate, Napier, and gave Indiana a 99-91 lead.
Brogdon then continued his clutch performance, finishing a reverse layup along the baseline that gave Indiana a 101-95 lead with 1:36 remaining. On the next Pacers possession, he collected two more points to extend Indiana’s lead to eight.
With the Timberwolves forced to foul, the Blue & Gold managed to get the ball into Brogdon’s hands. He happily obliged, connecting on a free throw to seal the win.
The Pacers conclude the home-and-home series with Minnesota when they host the Timberwolves at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 17 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
Special Offer – Pacers Win
Jack’s Donuts: Visit your local Jack’s Donuts the day after a Pacers victory and mention the Pacers win to receive a free 12-ounce coffee or donut with any purchase. Visit JacksDonuts.com to find the Jack’s Donuts nearest you.
Special Offer – Pacers Score 90+ Points
Papa John’s Pacers90: The day after the Pacers score 90 or more points, you score 50 percent off online pizzas at regular menu price. Order online at papajohns.com with promo code PACERS90. Offer valid in Central Indiana.