George Hill got it going early. He had 12 points and four assists in the first quarter and ended up with a season high 26 points, 7 assists and 5 steals. Although Hill’s big night kept Indiana in control throughout the first three quarters, the Pacers used a fourth quarter run to blitz the Timberwolves.
Minnesota missed their first nine shots of the fourth quarter and didn’t score until there was 7:20 remaining in the period. Indiana took advantage by starting the fourth on a 14-2 run to increase a five point third quarter lead to 17 halfway through the fourth.
Throughout the game Indiana forced Minnesota to shoot horribly as they finished shooting 33 percent and 16 percent on threes. But Minnesota was able to stay in the game through three quarters by going to line 28 times and knocking down 23 of them. Minnesota entered the game third in the NBA at 80.8 percent from the free throw line.
The Pacers were called for 24 personal fouls; they average 18.7 personal fouls per game, fourth fewest in the NBA. But 21 of those fouls came before the four minute mark in the third, which rattled Indiana.
Frank Vogel, David West and George Hill all picked up a technical foul for complaining after fouls called against the Pacers.
But that wouldn’t keep Indiana from closing the Timberwolves out. Shortly after Hill’s technical Paul George drove and got fouled then on the following Minnesota possession he stole a Kevin Martin pass and slammed down a windmill jam to get the Pacers and Bankers Life Fieldhouse back into the game.
George ended up with 26 points on 10 of 16 shooting. He made all four of his three pointers. He also finished with eight rebounds, four assists and six turnovers. It was his 12th game this season with at least 20 points; he entered the game fifth in the NBA in scoring with 24.2 points per game.
Just ahead of George on the NBA scoring list is Kevin Love, who averages 24.9. Love finished a horrendous 6 of 20 from the field, but he benefited from the Pacers fouls, as he made seven of his eight free throws and ended up with 20 points. He collected a game high 17 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season. Only once this season has Love not produced a double-double.
Defensively, Indiana struggled at times with defending Love. David West and Luis Scola bit on many of Love’s pump fakes, which drew Roy Hibbert to help and left Orlando Johnson or Lance Stephenson rotating to help on Nikola Pekovic, who had his sixth double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Ultimately it didn’t hurt Indiana too much, as Love struggled to knock down shots.
The other aspect of Minnesota’s offense that gave Indiana fits was the quickness of Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea. The two struggled to turn their drives into the lane into points, as they combined for 13 points on 6 of 20 shooting. Rubio did have seven assists, but Indiana’s defense was too good at forcing missed shots.
Where Rubio and Barea struggle is on defense, which is why Indiana looked for Hill to be aggressive all night. Hill took 13 shots, tying his season high, and went to the line six times.
Ian Mahinmi, after sitting out against Philadelphia so Vogel could experiment with lineups, had an impact off of the bench. He scored seven points while grabbing four rebounds and swatting away two shots.
Roy Hibbert struggled with foul trouble and played 27 minutes. He finished with just four points on 2 of 7 shooting.
Indiana is now a perfect eight for eight in home games, and they have dominated Minnesota at home all time. The Pacers are now 20-4 when hosting the Timberwolves and have won six of the last seven in Indiana against Minnesota.
Next up, Indiana will travel to Charlotte to face the Bobcats on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. eastern time.