Paul George leads Pacers over Timberwolves

By Conrad Brunner, The Sports Xchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- Maybe it's time to stop calling this a hot streak and start expecting these remarkable performances from Paul George.

After missing most of last season recovering from a broken leg, George continued to show he's not only all the way back but on an entirely new level, scoring 29 points with nine rebounds to help the Indiana Pacers hold off a furious rally by the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-103 Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.


"I don't know why it's so surprising," George said. "I prepare and I'm always ready to compete."

George scored at least 26 points for the sixth consecutive game, joining forward Billy Knight, forward Danny Granger and guard Reggie Miller as the only Pacers players to do so. In that span, George has averaged 29.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists while shooting .475 overall and from the 3-point line.


Monta Ellis scored 24, including a critical layup in the final minute. Ian Mahinmi had 12 points and nine rebounds and Glenn Robinson III scored a career-high 11 off the bench against his former team as Indiana (6-4) won for the sixth time in seven games after starting the season 0-3.

"We were expecting them to come back," Ellis said. "The biggest thing was we made plays down the stretch when we had to and we closed the game out."

Playing their fourth game in five nights -- and second in a row without injured point guard Ricky Rubio (hamstring) -- against a revamped Indiana lineup that plays with more defensive pressure and a faster offensive tempo, the Timberwolves (4-5) fell into a 27-point hole in the third quarter before finding their stride behind point guard Andre Miller.

The veteran scored all 10 of his points in a 30-7 run that cut Indiana's lead to 94-90 with 4:32 left, setting up a dramatic finish. A layup by guard Andrew Wiggins cut it to 101-100 with 1:18 remaining, but Ellis drove left for a layup and then blocked Miller's post-up attempt at the other end, leading to a free throw by forward C.J. Miles that made it a four-point game to effectively quell the visitors' last threat.


"They battled back and gave us a chance," said Minnesota coach Sam Mitchell. "The problem is when you get down like that, you have to play perfect. We're learning how to play, we're learning how to fight through pain. We're learning how to grow up. There are a lot of good things to make of tonight."

Wiggins and guard Zach LaVine scored 26 apiece for the Timberwolves, who dropped their third in a row. Center Karl-Anthony Towns had 12 points and nine rebounds, falling just short of his seventh double-double. Forward Nemanja Bjelica scored 10 off the bench.

For the first time in nine games, the home team won in a Minnesota game. The Timberwolves had won their first four on the road, while losing their first four at home.

"We fought hard against a really good team on the road," Wiggins said. "Though we got down early, we stayed aggressive. And that's a good sign from a young team. In the end, we dug ourselves too big a hole. We'll learn from it and get better."

Indiana put together a dominating 21-6 run to stretch an 11-point halftime lead to 87-60 late in the third. The Pacers hit seven of their first nine shots in the second half to build upon their first-half momentum.


Indiana made all five of its 3-point attempts in the second quarter, including three during a 17-2 run that built a 55-42 lead. The Pacers shot .636 in the period to take a 61-50 lead into the break.

The only negative for the home team in the period was the temporary loss of Miles, who took a blow to the forehead with 3:55 left in the half, but passed the NBA-mandated concussion test at halftime and returned to the game midway through the third period.

NOTES: Indiana was without two key reserves, G Rodney Stuckey (sprained R ankle) and C Myles Turner (chip fracture, L thumb). The team's leading bench scorer (10.1), Stuckey has missed two in a row and three of four. ... Turner, the first-round pick who averaged 6.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in his first eight games, will miss at least a month. Veteran Jordan Hill (9.1 points, 8.3 rebounds) inherits the backup role behind starting C Ian Mahinmi. ... Rubio was inactive with a sore hamstring and missed his second game in a row. Zach LaVine filled in as the starter ... The Timberwolves also were without center Nikola Pekovic, still recovering from Achilles tendon surgery. ... Indiana improved to 17-8 all-time on Friday the 13th, the third-best winning percentage (.680) of all NBA teams. San Antonio (9-4, .692) leads the way. ... The Pacers are 33-18 all-time against the Timberwolves, their best winning percentage (.647) against any opponent.


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