Pacers 109, Timberwolves 99: Granger, Collison Lead Indiana Past Minnesota

Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger scored a season-high 36 points to lead the Pacers past the Minnesota Timberwolves, 109-99.

Granger and Darren Collison, who also added a season-high with 20 points, combined to put the Pacers in control of the game in the third quarter, forcing the Wolves into catch-up mode for the rest of the game. The Pacers gave up 99 points but were able to frustrate Minnesota with some seriously stingy stretches at the defensive end.

Kevin Love score 21 points with 17 rebounds but was frustrated often with the physical play the Pacers threw at him and his professional flopping ability. Love's frustration eventually lit a fuse under Granger to put the game away for the Pacers. Late in the third quarter, Granger corralled a loose carom and Love just clotheslined DG by slamming him on the shoulder. Granger took exception and immediately got in Love's face, causing a bit of a ruckus.

The Pacers took the short end of the play because Granger was assessed a technical while Love escaped a flagrant foul call (although the league office may be calling him this week), but after the play, Granger would not be denied. He went on to score 14 more points as the Pacers opened the fourth quarter with a 20-9 run and eventually pushed the lead to 18 points.

Granger made five three-pointers on the night and killed the Wolves' will with a Reggie-like four-point play by splashing a three-pointer while going to the ground after some mild contact to draw the foul. Last laugh goes to 33.

This was a strong road win for the Pacers considering Paul George and David West sat much of the second half with foul trouble. Frank Vogel was able to keep them resting since he was getting strong minutes from Dahntay Jones, Lou Amundson and Tyler Hansbrough off the bench.

After Minnesota used its depth to take the lead in the first half, appearing to have a significant advantage, the Pacers bench got it done when it mattered on the defensive end and let Granger and Collison handle the offense. The Pacers are now 15-6 as the head to Dallas to take on the Mavericks on Friday.

After the jump, a few more thoughts and observations.

  • Darren Collison had a strong game and certainly won the point guard matchup with Ricky Rubio. Collison had 20 points 9 assists, 6 rebounds and only one turnover. Rubio finished with 10 points and 6 assists, although a couple of those assists were garbage time buckets. Luke Ridnour playing point/shooting guard was trouble, finishing with 16 points.
  • Paul George appeared to pick up where he left off against New Jersey with a strong start. A ticky-tack foul early forced him to the bench though and then his fourth foul less than two minutes into the second half sent him to the bench for good. George scored 10 first-half points, but with the Pacers taking a big league and hanging on to finish the game, PG wasn't needed, so after playing less than 20 minutes the young fella should be fresh and ready to go for the next round of back-to-backs starting in Dallas.
  • David West also picked up his fourth foul midway through the fourth and ended up with some extended bench time. West did return for a few minutes late, but only ended the game with 24 minutes played. He also had 12 points and 8 rebounds while struggling to avoid fouling the Minny bigs.
  • Roy Hibbert had his hands full with the Minnesota bigs, as well. Nikola Pekovic is just a monster of a man and knows how to set up in the post. The pair worked to a stalemate with Pekovic logging 13 points and 12 rebounds while Hibbert had 15 points and 9 rebounds with 3 blocked shots.
  • After jumping out to a strong start with a 16-7 lead, the Pacers hit the to end the first quarter. After giving up 5 offensive rebounds and turning it over 6 times, the Pacers simply gave Minnesota too many chances and the Wolves took advantage.
  • Three of those early turnovers were by Lance Stephenson playing in the guard off the bench role that George Hill normally fills. Stephenson was noticeably amped up to impress which never works out well and he simply lost the ball three times. Stephenson settled down later in the game and did fine at the defensive end, but A.J. Price would handle the ball in the second half.
  • Lou Amundson backed up his solid outing aginst New Jersey with ten strong minutes when the Pacers needed it most. He only scored three points with two rebounds but both rebounds were on the offensive end and led directly to his three points after out-working the Minny bigs. He also showed up at the other end, getting a hand on J.J. Barea's dribble which left the ball in Granger's hands to take the other way for a layup.
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