It’s an interconference battle on the hardwood in the Hoosier State. The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the road as they complete a home and home set with the Indiana Pacers Friday night. These teams met in the Twin Cities on Wednesday night, with Indiana picking up a 104-99 victory to ensure no worse than a season split. In the all-time regular season series, the Pacers own a 38-21 advantage in the all-time regular season series, including two straight victories after taking Wednesday’s contest.
Minnesota Timberwolves Seek to Split Season SeriesMinnesota hung in and had their opportunities but ended up on the wrong end of a five-point decision in their home half of this set. The Timberwolves entered Thursday losers of three straight and in the basement of the Northwest Division, 13 games behind Denver and Utah for the top spot. In the Western Conference playoff picture, Minnesota stood 12th, 3.5 games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot. The Timberwolves led by six after the opening quarter, by five at the half and by one after three quarters before seeing things slip away. Minnesota gave up a 10-4 run in the fourth quarter to trail 95-89 and couldn’t get closer than four after that. The Timberwolves shot 43.2 percent from the field, including 11 of 28 from three-point range, and turned the ball over 15 times in the loss. Jarrett Culver led Minnesota with 17 points in the loss.
Young Rook JC starting to find his groove in the 4th 😤 pic.twitter.com/aESYWr6zmJ— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 16, 2020
The Timberwolves enter this one 13th in the league in scoring offense as they average 111.3 points per game this season. Minnesota is seventh in the league in rebounding as they collect 46.4 boards per contest and 23rd as they dish out 22.6 assists per game. The Timberwolves are 25th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 114.5 points per contest. Karl-Anthony Towns is leading the team with 26.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Andrew Wiggins contributes 22.8 points a night, Jeff Teague puts up 13.2 points plus 6.1 assists a night while Robert Covington (12.7 points), Jake Layman (10.5 points) and Shabazz Napier (9.6 points) are solid scoring options as well. Shabazz Napier, Jarrett Culver and Gorgui Dieng are other guys that need to contribute. Minnesota is 29th in field goal percentage as they shoot 43.2 percent from the floor this season. The Timberwolves are 8th by knocking down 12.6 threes per game while the team is 29th by shooting only 32.4 percent from beyond the arc as a team this season. Towns (knee) has been out since December 13 but hopes to return soon after missing Wednesday’s game with an illness. Layman (toe) remains without a firm timetable, making him likely missing for this contest. He has returned to shooting at practice but hasn’t played since November 18.
It was announced Thursday afternoon that the Timberwolves reportedly shipped Teague and Treveon Graham to Atlanta in exchange for Allen Crabbe. It's not sure whether the deal will be completed in time for the swapped players to be in uniform here. That could leave Minnesota short a bit in their rotation.
Indiana Pacers Looking to Improve Eastern Conference Playoff PositionIndiana made the plays in crunch time to take the first half of this home and home set and earn their third straight win in the process. The Pacers entered Thursday second in the Central Division, 9.5 games behind the Bucks for the top spot. Indiana is fifth in the Eastern Conference playoff picture with Milwaukee holding the top spot there as well. The Pacers trailed by six after the opening quarter but came up with the key fourth-quarter run to take control of the game for the win. Indiana shot the ball well, hitting 51.8 percent from the field, including seven of 23 from beyond the arc, to offset 15 turnovers in the game. Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 29 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in the win.
The Pacers enter this contest 19th in scoring offense with 109.2 points per game on the season. Indiana is 22nd in the league in rebounding with 43.6 boards per contest and stands 6th with 25.9 assists per game. The Pacers are 8th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 106.1 points per game this season. Malcolm Brogdon is second on the team with 17.9 points, 4.5 rebounds plus 7.4 assists per game this season. Domantas Sabonis (18.1 points, 13.1 rebounds), Myles Turner (12.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, two blocks), T.J. Warren (17.8 points), Aaron Holiday (10.4 points) and Jeremy Lamb (13.2 points) are all contributing on the offensive end. The Pacers still miss Victor Oladipo, who is on the comeback trail after last season’s knee injury. He hopes to make his season on January 29 against the Bulls. Indiana is tied for 6th in the league in field goal percentage as the team shoots 47 percent from the field this season. The Pacers are 29th in threes made per game as they have drained 10.1 triples a night while the team stands tied for 5th in three-point shooting by hitting 36.7 percent from beyond the arc.
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