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Pacers fall flat in frustrating loss to Timberwolves

A lack of focus caused Indiana to stumble on the road against Minnesota, dropping them in a 101-91 loss. Bojan Bogdanovic and Victor Oladipo each scored 20, but with different paths.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves fought back and forth through the first three quarters, neither team seeking to seize control of the game. However, that may have largely been due to Minnesota’s lack of shot-making abilities. The Pacers led 73-72 heading into the fourth quarter, but by not looking at the score, it’d be hard to imagine the Pacers were within 20.

Indiana never looked comfortable in tonight’s game and that came back on them when the Timberwolves blitzed the Pacers to start the fourth on a 12-0 run. The run featured a lot of Derrick Rose, but also featured two threes, something Minnesota couldn’t buy for prior to the fourth.

That granted Minnesota the opportunity to finally break out and close out the Pacers, wrapping up the 101-91 victory by outscoring Indiana 29-18. Much of what had been happening all night took place in the fourth, but the Pacers were unable to keep Minnesota in the muck, dropping them to 0-2 on the road.

The Timberwolves outworked the Pacers for much of the game, but when the offensive rebounding, Indiana’s biggest advantage in the first half disappeared, Indiana’s other issues were amplified all that more. The Pacers had eight offensive rebounds to Minnesota’s zero, but the Wolves flipped the script in the second half, picking up eight in the second half, ultimately winning the rebounding battle 47-45 after trailing by double digits in the first.

In the second half, Indiana shot under 40% in the paint, which shockingly wasn’t much of a sea change from their success inside in the first half, but the Timberwolves brought extra energy in the second half to take away the second chance opportunities the Pacers had relied on in the first half to keep pace.

Without that ability to win on the glass, the rest of the Pacers offense sputtered through the second half. Attacking the basket against Minnesota didn’t work even when they got offensive rebounds; the Timberwolves had 11 blocks. It also didn’t seem to work anywhere else. Part of that was due to the activity of Minnesota’s defense overall.

The Pacers seemed unfocused with the ball, leading to 16 turnovers, but also leading to a number of tipped and batted balls by the Timberwolves defense. Andrew Wiggins left the game early with a quad injury, which opened the door for Josh Okogie. Wiggins’s more effortless style would’ve benefited the Pacers tonight as opposed to Okogie getting a bigger role to run around the Pacers on both ends.

The lack of focus carried over to the defensive end, particularly in transition. While the Pacers were only outscored by a single point in points off turnovers, they were thrashed in transition, allowing Minnesota to outscore them 26-8. The Pacers also sent the Wolves to the line 24 times, getting outscored by 11 in the process, committing seven extra fouls.

Indiana also shot just 8-26 from three point range, but given their hesitancy to shoot the three, it’s hard to be too upset, especially when they did finish better than Minnesota from deep. Unfortunately for the Pacers, the Timberwolves hit four threes in the fourth, adding a timely factor to Indiana’s ultimate demise.

Bojan Bogdanovic hit half of Indiana’s threes on the night to lead the Pacers with 20 points. It’s rare that the Pacers get a big night from Bogdanovic and are also forced to hold an L, as Indiana went 12-3 a year ago when he scored 20 or more. Unfortunately, a combination of poor shooting and foul trouble limited everyone else’s effectiveness on the night.

Victor Oladipo also had 20, but timely scoring again came into play. Oladipo scored 10 in the first quarter, 15 in the first half, leaving him to score just five in the third and fourth quarters on 2-7 shooting. Overall, he finished 8-23, including a 2-7 night from three point range and 0-5 in the paint in the second half.

Foul trouble hindered the nights of both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, with Turner seeing a night where he could’ve given the Pacers some much needed extra points fizzle out to the tune of 16 points in 26 minutes due to constant foul trouble in the first three quarters.

Sabonis meanwhile returned to action, picking up two in the first half, which again limited his overall scope when he was playing well early. He finished with eight points and seven rebounds, both highs for a bench that had played exceptionally well heading into tonight, but offered little support in this game.

The second unit (expanded to include minutes for Kyle O’Quinn with both Sabonis and as a third big) scored just 21 points. It was far and away the lowest bench output of the season, but also the first time no bench player reached double figures. In the previous three games, at least three players had.

That was largely due to two combined points for Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott. The duo entered averaging 25.7 points between the two of them, but were just 1-7 tonight. McDermott was 0-2 from three point range, not given a wealth of opportunities as a shooter, but with no opening in the paint, it was tough going for Evans in particular, coughing up a pair of turnovers.

The loss drops the Pacers to 0-2 on the road, and neither game has been particularly encouraging. That will need to change quickly given Indiana will be playing four of their next five away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That begins Wednesday against DeMar DeRozan and the new-look San Antonio Spurs.