Minnesota Timberwolves 96 – Indiana Pacers 94

Photo Credits: Dave Wallis – Associated Press

The Timberwolves hosted the Pacers tonight to start a back to back and this one certainly didn’t disappoint.  Rick Adelman continues to put his finger on this franchise and the Wolves pulled out the victory in the last few seconds, moving to 4-1 on the season.  There was a little bit of a setback that we’ll cover off below however, as Brandon Roy didn’t play in the 2nd half.  Let’s get to it.

About an hour before tipoff, the Twolves announced that JJ Barea would be out tonight and won’t travel with the team to Chicago (and potentially Dallas).  In other injury news, earlier this week the Pacers announced that their star, Danny Granger, would miss at least three months of the season.  There are an awful lot of injuries for being so early in the season, aren’t there?

In any case, the Twolves opened up with the same starting five they have used all season – Ridnour, Roy, AK47, DWill, and Pekovic.  The Pacers countered with George Hill, Paul George (who I still get aggravated about when I hear/see his name due to the Wes Johnson era), Sam Young, David West, and Roy Hibbert.

The game itself started off with the teams going back and forth exchanging buckets (and turnovers).  The officials really let them play, with a lot of body contact being allowed.  Going into the first TO, DWill looked impressive hitting a 3 pointer and then a driving layup that gave the Pups a 13-10 lead and forcing the Pacers to call the TO.

With about four minutes to go in the 1st quarter, there was a loose ball off of a rebound that Hibbert decided to dive on the floor for.  In the process he took down Pekovic.  First, my heart skipped a beat thinking that Pek’s leg got stuck underneath Hibbert.  Second, since that didn’t happen, I assumed Pek would squash Hibbert for the remainder of the game.  (Side note: this didn’t happen)

At the end of the 1st quarter, the Twolves held the lead 21-19.  The Pups shot 53% to Indiana’s 38%, but failed to execute at the end of the quarter, as Ridnour turned the ball over as the clock wound down.  DWill had a very nice quarter with a game high 9 points.  Paul George quietly led the Pacers with 5 points.  The entire twelve minutes was a hard fought battle between the two teams, so it wasn’t a surprise to see the low score at all.

Adelman opened up the 2nd quarter without any starters in the game.  Alexey Shved had a very active first few minutes on the floor, including a few rebounds, assists, and drawing a foul on a three pointer (and hitting all three!).  Despite Adelman saying otherwise before the game, when Shved and Malcolm Lee were both on the floor, Shved was clearly the PG and directing traffic.

The Wolves opened up a seven point lead in the 2nd, but quickly gave it right back.  Similar to the 1st, the quarter was full of small runs, a good amount of banging in the paint, and aggressiveness.  At the half, the Pups trailed 43-42.  Similar to the end of the 1st quarter, the Wolves failed to execute as the clock wound down.  This is exactly where Roy needs to step up for the team, particularly while others continue to wear suits on the sideline.

Here are a few thoughts from the first half through a Wolves lens:

  • Both Wolves centers struggled – Pek was very quiet and Stiemsma picked up two fouls in very limited floor time
  • Malcolm Lee did not look good – expect more PT for Will Conroy over the next few days
  • AK47 only took two shots in the first half and I expected that to significantly increase in the final 24 minutes

As I checked to see who was on the floor to start the 3rd quarter, I noticed that Budinger replaced Roy in the lineup, which was a little interesting.  Seconds later, the Pacers broadcast team announced that Roy isn’t on the Wolves bench at all.  (Insert nervous twitch)

Minnesota managed to get into the bonus with just over 6 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.  However, they never really took advantage of this for the remainder of the quarter.  While Pekovic continued to struggle against Hibbert, Budinger managed to be the sparkplug the Pups needed.  As the game continued to go back and forth, it was reported that Roy was out for the rest of the game with a sore left knee.  (Continues to twitch, must stay rational)

As I continued to check for updates on Brandon Roy, the Twolves managed to build a little momentum to close out the 3rd quarter.  Chase had a strong quarter and tallied 16 points, shooting 9-10 from the FT line through three.  The quarter ended with the Pups successfully executing an offensive set, as Shved dished to Lee for a layup.  The Wolves led 69-64 going into the final 12 minutes.

The 4th quarter started with some beautiful basketball from “my main man” Alexey Shved.  Sorry, just channeling the inner Rick Kamla there.  The Wolves built an eight point lead before David West went to work in the paint to end the run.  However, the Wolves were able to quickly answer with a follow-up layup from Dante Cunningham.

As the game wore on, it got more and more chippy.  The referees warned both teams to stop complaining, while the bumping and reaching continued.  Shortly thereafter, we had our first technical of the game, with Shved picking up the T on a poor non-call as he drove to the basket.  In what could have been a real game-changer, the Wolves continued to fight against the Pacers and maintained its small lead as the final minutes approached.

Then, the sequence of the game came from Team Russia.  Shved made a driving layup, followed by AK47 stealing the inbounds pass, then dishing/feeding Shved for another layup to put the Wolves up by four.  The game continued to go back and forth for the next few minutes.  With the Wolves in position of the ball and up by three, they had a perfect opportunity to put the Pacers away but Pekovic blew a layup (please leverage “the dunk” at some point this season).  This gave the Pacers one last chance to tie the game and it came to fruition as George Hill hit a step back three with under four seconds to play.

However, that left more than enough time for Adelman to draw up a game winning play.  Ridnour inbound the ball to AK47 and the Pacers (largely Gerald Green, to no surprise) fell asleep at the wheel as Budinger cut to the basket for a game winning layup on the Kirilenko assist.  Wolves win 96-94 and move to 4-1 on the season!  No, seriously!

Tonight’s Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Chase Budinger
  2. Alexey Shved
  3. George Hill

I’m not sure what to expect out of Saturday’s game against Chicago, but Wolves fans should try to enjoy this one for at least a little while.  Let’s go Wolves!