The Indiana Pacers are the NBA's best defense for a reason and Minnesota saw that first-hand tonight at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
For the second game in a row the Timberwolves allowed an opponent to shoot 50% or greater from both the field and the three-point line! So, you add Indiana's hot shooting night with their lockdown defense and you've got a 14-point Timberwolves loss.
The Pacers improved to 8-0 at home which is the best home start in franchise history. The Pacers are also now 13-1 on the year. The Wolves dropped to 8-8 on the season and have now lost five-straight games on the road. An interesting sidenote: the starting lineup of Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love & Peković is actually below .500 on the season at 7-8 (with that other win coming with Robbie Hummel starting at small forward).
The Timberwolves kept things close through three quarters, but the Pacers amped things up in the final period to easily walk away with their NBA-best 13th-win of the season.
After three quarters the Timberwolves were down 5 points. The Wolves entered this game 0-6 in games in which they trailed after three quarters. The Pacers came into this contest 10-0 in games that they led after three quarters. That held true tonight as the Timberwolves were held to just 16 fourth quarter points.
A big key to Minnesota success throughout this one was their ability to get to the free-throw line. In a game that the Wolves shot under 35% from the field for the majority of the contest, getting freebies at the line was instrumental in sticking with this Pacer squad. The Wolves shot went 22-26 from the line through three quarters, but attempted just two in the final quarter. In fact, the Timberwolves were held to just those two free throw attempts (from Pek) in the final 15:09! Indiana's ability to defend without fouling in that final period proved to be one of the deciding factors in this one.
The biggest news of the night wasn't what happened on the floor, however. Since late afternoon there were rumors circulating on Twitter that the Derrick Williams was 99.9% gone from Minnesota. By the end of the first quarter tonight that came to fruition--the Timberwolves agreed in principle to a deal that would send Williams to Sacramento and bring Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to Minnesota. The deal is not official yet as the Timberwolves have to clear Mbah a Moute with a physical, but (according to multiple reports) it would take something major for the Timberwolves to decline this trade.
You can read more about the trade in this write-up I posted during halftime of tonight's game: Caged Lion Released to Roam in Sacramento. Once (or if) the deal becomes official I'll have a write-up posted in the News section tomorrow. The physical should take place tomorrow morning and we'll most certainly know by Tuesday afternoon. If the deal does go through, you can expect Mbah a Moute to be added to all our various pages by tomorrow evening.
Back to tonight's contest, let's take a look at tonight's box score...
The Timberwolves set new season-lows tonight in field goals made (29), field-goal percentage (32.6%), three-pointers made (3), three-point percentage (15.8%), assists (15), fast break points (6), points in the paint (36) and points (84). Minnesota's 1 block also ties a season-low and their 19 three-point attempts is the second-least attempted this season.
The Pacers' 53.3% three-point shooting is the second-best by a Wolves opponent this season and their 13 steals are a season-high for a Wolves opponent.
The Timberwolves fell apart in the final quarter and their cold shooting throughout the night doomed them in that final period when they stopped hearing the whistle blow and ceased to get to the line.
Paul George & George Hill combined for 52 points including 7-for-8 from deep and 9 steals. I'm a big fan of Paul George's game and yet I weep a bit on the inside everytime I watch him play, because of two simple names: David Kahn & Wesley Johnson.
Is it just me or does Nikola Peković seem to elevate his game when he's matched up against some of the NBA's premier interior defenders? Tonight he battled Roy Hibbert and make no mistake about it, it was a battle. Pek definitely got the best of him. Hibbert was in foul trouble throughout and just couldn't handle Pek in the paint. Roy Hibbert came into the game as the NBA's leading shot-blocker, averaging 4.3 a contest as well as an average of 5.0 in home games. He finished with just one block tonight as Pek had his way against him and later backup big Ian Mahinmi. Despite the loss, this was a bright spot for me and I really enjoyed watching these two go at it.
Tonight's game began a lengthy stretch of tough contests. The Wolves will have a chance to bounce back on Wednesday night at the Target Center vs. the Nuggets...however that may be their easiest opponent until they face the Pistons on Dec. 10th (there are four contests sandwiched in between these two games and those opponents include: the Mavericks, Thunder, Spurs & Heat.
MISC. NOTES: Robbie Hummel's homestate is Indiana, he's from Valparaiso, Indiana (a city where I actually have quite a bit of family) and he played his collegiate basketball at Purdue for the Boilermakers. Hummel didn't score in his return to his homestate, but he did tie a season-high with 2 offensive rebounds and set a new season-high with 2 steals. Hummel also had the only positive +/- for the Timberwolves tonight with a +4........According to reports on Twitter, there was a fan heckling Williams as he sat on the bench during the second half, laughing at him and telling him that he'd been traded to Sacramento (he already knew, however); Williams didn't respond........
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!