Oladipo, hot-shooting Pacers scorch Timberwolves 130-107
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers couldn’t miss, and the Minnesota Timberwolves paid the price.
Victor Oladipo scored 28 points, Cory Joseph added 21 and the Pacers set a franchise record for shooting percentage in a 130-107 victory on Tuesday night.
Darren Collison had 15 points and 16 assists, Bojan Bogdanovic scored 19 points and Domantas Sabonis had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who shot 67 percent from the floor.
“I thought our guards did a good job of establishing the tempo,” said Pacers coach Nate McMillan, whose team scored 18 fast-break points and registered 31 assists. “If you move the ball as they did tonight, guys are going to have wide-open looks.”
Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, who came out flat after a thrilling last-second win at Oklahoma City on Sunday.
“We didn’t play as well as we needed to today, and we obviously knew that,” Towns said. “We were trying to scratch out a win and found ourselves fighting back to get into the game.”
Minnesota was missing forward Jimmy Butler, who sat out with an upper respiratory infection. Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t use that as an excuse.
“We have more than enough to win with,” Thibodeau said. “You can never underestimate how hard you have to play to win in this league. There’s going to be bumps in the road. There’s times during the game where it may not be going our way and you have to battle through those things.”
Oladipo scored eight points and Indiana made 15 of 22 shots (68 percent) in the first quarter to take a 33-20 lead. His first two baskets came in transition, including an alley-oop from Collison. That facet of the game was a point of emphasis for the Pacers after they scored just five points on the fast break in their loss at Miami on Saturday.
“(Collison) does a great job of setting the pace for us,” Oladipo said. “We just got out and run collectively as a unit and it helped us.”
Towns scored nine points in an 11-2 Minnesota run in the second quarter as the teams entered halftime tied at 61. But the Pacers ended the third quarter on a 24-5 run to pull ahead 98-84. Then they buried Minnesota with a 14-2 run early in the fourth.
“I didn’t like our body language when it wasn’t going our way,” Thibodeau said. “I guess that’s the thing that’s disappointing is more the mental part, the mental toughness of fighting through things. The spirit has to remain strong, and you have to find ways to win.”
Pacers: Indiana played without C Myles Turner, who missed his third straight game with a sore neck and concussion-like symptoms. … Sabonis hit all seven of his field goal attempts, while Oladipo began the game 6-for-6 from the floor. Joseph hit 5 of 6 3-pointers, while Bogdanovic was 9-for-12 from the floor. … The Pacers had lost two straight after opening the season with a win over Brooklyn.
Timberwolves: Thibodeau said Butler’s status for Wednesday’s game at Detroit was undetermined. PG Jeff Teague spent the 2016-17 season with the Pacers. He played all 82 games and averaged 15.3 points and 7.8 assists per game. Teague had two points and seven assists on Tuesday. … Wiggins, a career 75 percent free throw shooter, was just 1-for-6 from the line and finished with seven points. It was his lowest output since he scored seven points at Memphis last November 19.
Oladipo and Sabonis came over from Oklahoma City in the offseason when Indiana management granted Paul George’s trade request. The Pacers will get their first look at George in a Thunder uniform on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. The four-time All-Star spent the first seven years of his career with the Pacers and is averaging 21.3 points with the Thunder.
“Paul has done some good things for us for many years, but it’s really another game,” McMillan said. “It’s OKC, and they now have Paul George. For us it’s another game, a tough back-to-back, but it’s good to go in there with a win.”
Oladipo and Sabonis each spent just one season with the Thunder.
“At the end of the day, we’re just trying to win,” Oladipo said. “They’re the next opponent, so that’s who we’ve got to get ready for.”
Pacers: At Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.
Timberwolves: At Detroit on Wednesday night.