If the Indiana Pacers losing to Philadelphia was the season's low point, it didn't take long for that to be outdone. The Pacers suffered an inexcusable loss at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves, allowing 41 points in the fourth quarter, including 21 to Mo Williams. Williams capped off a career night in spectacular fashion, sinking the dagger in on the Pacers for a final total of 52 points, which also happens to be an NBA season high; the first 50-point night of the NBA season.
What of the Pacers, whose highlights on the night included three technical fouls and two ejections? It's certainly getting dire. The loss to the 76ers was a bad loss not just because of who it was, but because it had set into motion a dangerous trend that only culminated further in tonight's loss to Minnesota. In the last six games, Indiana has seen the schedule soften up tremendously, but excluding the Golden State loss, the Pacers are just 2-3 against teams below them in the standings.
In the first four games, things could've swung for or against Indiana on a single possession, which is troubling in and of itself. But tonight? There was no doubt who the better team was when the horn sounded, and it wasn't the home team. it was the team that entered 5-31 and on a 15-game losing streak who beat the Pacers 110-101. Much like the Philadelphia game, however, it was Indiana that helped give Minnesota life by failing to put the Wolves in their rearview mirror, and it cost them yet again.
Indiana trailed after the first quarter, but led by the reserves pushed themselves into the lead, holding a slim four point halftime lead. They pushed the lead up to nine in the third quarter, but were unable to push the game into double figures as the game shifted away from Indiana when Roy Hibbert pulled down Gorgui Dieng for what was ruled a Flagrant 2, ejecting Hibbert from the game.
Hibbert struggled shooting at 4-12, but neared a double double with 10 points and eight rebounds, including six offensive, before the ejection. Following the ejection, it became Mo Williams's time. Williams drew the Wolves back with help from Anthony Wiggins, as he pushed Minnesota into the lead at 92-90 with four and a half minutes left. Failures to get stops on defense meant the Pacers were never truly in the game once they allowed Minnesota to make it a two possession game.
Near the end, an offensive foul by Chris Copeland where he and Wiggins hit heads, causing a bloodied up eye from Copeland, outraged David West, who by that point had had enough, and kindly got himself ejected from the game. A technical from Frank Vogel followed to wrap up a woeful showcase from Indiana.
Williams's 52 points came with contest, but he was in a rare zone tonight. Of course, Indiana's own miscues allowed his effort to be the difference tonight. Seventeen turnovers for the Pacers led to 33 points from the Wolves and a dreadful 18-30 night from the free throw line helped stack up the woes for Indiana, who showed very little in the way of fight when things got tough tonight.
C.J. Miles led the Pacers with 22 points, but aside from a pair of early threes from Damjan Rudez and a solid shoting night from from C.J. Watson, who had 17, there was very little worth noting from the Pacers side of the ball tonight. And a pair of games against "up-and-coming" Detroit and Charlotte, the Pacers are going to have find themselves quickly if they hope to rebound from this string of poor play and bad losses.
They'll get an extra day off before tipping off against the streaking Pistons, who kickstarted a seven game winning streak against Indiana on December 26. The Pacers slip to 10th place in the Eastern Conference with the loss, falling to 15-25, holding a tiebreaker over Detroit by percentage points.