The Indiana Pacers didn’t waste their extra five minutes tonight, closing out the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime to get back in the win column. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty, it definitely wasn’t defensive minded, but the Pacers fought and scrapped late, overcoming a 10-point deficit early in fourth quarter.
That deficit was part of a 21-point turnaround for the Pacers, who appeared to have things under control when Jeremy Lamb put in a three with 41 seconds in the first quarter to put Indiana up 39-28. They shot the ball extremely well, but also rebounded with a purpose, scoring their first seven of the game on second chance points.
Gushing over the play in the first quarter was very nearly all the Pacers had as they saw that 11-point lead shrink to six at the end of the quarter on a turnover and two allowed offensive rebounds. in the blink of an eye, Naz Reid tore through Domantas Sabonis and the Indiana defense, scoring nine points in under 90 seconds to tie the game up at 44-44.
From there, Minnesota jumped into the lead, and making no effort to look back, built a seven-point advantage halfway through the second. Malcolm Brogdon completed a three point play as a response, kicking off a 7-0 Pacers burst to tie the game, but they were unable to take control of the game, despite Sabonis briefly regaining the lead for the Pacers late in the second.
The Timberwolves responded to that one-point deficit with seven straight late in the half to finish with 73, topping Indiana by four. The lead ballooned up to nine a few minutes into the third, which frustrating, was also one of the more impressive stretches for the Pacers on the defensive end.
At no point in the third did Minnesota ever push their lead out into double figures despite ample opportunities to do so. In a game so heavily defined by offense, neither team found much of anything in the third, including a two and a half minute stretch in the middle of the period where neither team scored, eventually holding at nine after both sides exchanged shots.
The Pacers did manage to cut into that lead when the Sabonis/Brogdon two-man game that struggled against Chicago pulled them somewhat out of the fire with five straight points, though they would allow a bucket to Reid late to take a six-point deficit into the final quarter. Reid, along with Malik Beasley, then scored six straight to push the lead to 10 early in the fourth.
It was then that Indiana found an answer in Aaron Holiday, who put in five key points out of a timeout to cut the lead in half, forcing a breather on the Minnesota sidelines. Holiday got to the line after the Wolves inched the lead back up to seven, kicking off a 9-0 Pacers run that put them back on top, courtesy of back-to-back Brogdon threes.
The Pacers eventually settled themselves enough to take a five-point lead with 4:32 remaining, but instantly allowed Minnesota back into it on four quick points from Karl-Anthony Towns. At that point, the game became absolutely frenzied, with both sides trading baskets at an alarming rate, especially for the Pacers, who suddenly saw their five-point lead turn into a five-point deficit with 59 seconds to go.
Jeremy Lamb responded with a three to cut the lead to two, then following a key stop, got Sabonis at the line to drill a pair of clutch threes, tying the game at 121-121 with 11 seconds left. On the final possession of regulation, Anthony Edwards put up a three that went in and out, sending the game into overtime, the second straight for the Pacers.
In the extra frame, the Pacers struck first, scoring five points between Brogdon and Sabonis, a lead that would be as shaky as the regulation lead after Beasley hit a three and Sabonis split his next trip the line. Holiday and Beasley traded buckets with one minute remaining and the Pacers turned the ball over on a shot clock violation.
In a game that had so little notable defense, it was notable that Sabonis forced a turnover by intercepting a pass by Beasley, setting up Brogdon on the other end for a dagger three attempt that went.
The three was Brogdon’s sixth of the game, willing Indiana throughout the night with timely shots, finishing 6-7 from deep. He scored 32 points and had nine rebounds and seven assists, one of two 30-point scorers on the night, along with Sabonis.
Sabonis finished with 36 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists, including three steals for good measure. It was a much better outing for both Brogdon and Sabonis, lifting the Pacers on a night when support scoring was scarce for guys like Doug McDermott, Justin Holiday, and Myles Turner. Justin did reach double figures with 11 points and Turner had eight points an dfour blocks.
Off the bench, it was Lamb and A. Holiday, combining for 33 points. Twenty-three of those came in the fourth quarter and overtime, giving Nate Bjorkgren a lot of options down the stretch, leading to a perfect 7-7 shooting for the Pacers from three in the fourth and overtime.
Though the Pacers had a very tough time coming up with stops, in part due to their terrible rebounding cropping up again in the second half, they did adjust rather well in preventing the Timberwolves from scoring off turnovers. In the first half, Minnesota had 21 points off turnovers, but the Pacers were able to limit them to just two afterwards, giving them just enough of an edge despite still allowing 10 extra shots.
Indiana peeks back above .500 with this win, improving them to 3-1 in their last four games. They’ll wrap up this two-game road trip with a game against the Houston Rockets on Saturday, looking for the season series sweep. Victor Oladipo is currently day-to-day with a foot injury and did not play tonight in Houston’s loss.