MINNEAPOLIS — It wasn’t exactly a holiday miracle, but after weeks of shooting frustration, the Indiana Pacers finally enjoyed an offensive night to remember.
The Pacers posted their best shooting percentage of the season, and forward David West hit a jumper with 34.3 seconds left, snapping a 94-94 tie and helping the Indiana win for just the second time in the past 12 games, 100-96 over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.
C.J. Miles came off the bench to lead all scorers with 28 for Indiana, which was playing the second of back-to-back road games after a loss in Denver on Saturday night. The Pacers swingman hit four free throws in the final 11.7 seconds to seal the win.
“Guys have been sharing the basketball well and a lot of times not getting the payoff with a high level of shot-making,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “But the guys were really moving it well tonight and were able to create shots for each other.”
Minnesota got 24 points from guard Mo Williams and another 21 from guard Shabazz Muhammad but could not overcome a cold start. The Wolves (5-21) trailed by 14 at halftime and by as many as 19 in the third before mounting a furious comeback, but they still took their fifth consecutive loss.
“I told our guys what I was most disappointed in, and it was pointed at our young players, was I thought they had no energy to start the game,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. “When you’re playing your young players and they’re playing that much and you have that many wasted minutes, you’re going to struggle.”
When West hit a spinning shot with 5:26 to play in the fourth, it gave Indiana an 87-81 lead, but the Wolves scored the next six points, forging an 87-87 tie with 3:37 left when Williams hit a pull-up jumper. He hit a 3-pointer less than a minute later for a 90-89 Wolves lead, but Miles answered with a 3-pointer at the 2:00 mark, and the Pacers would not trail again.
Indiana (9-19) led 52-38 at halftime thanks in large part to forward Luis Scola, who was averaging nine points per game but had 10 in the second quarter alone. Scola didn’t score in the other three quarters.
Williams came off the bench to lead all scorers with 13 first-half points for Minnesota. Indiana hit nearly 55 percent of its first-half shots and finished at 50 percent from the floor for the game.
Vogel made sure to manage his team’s minutes, cognizant that fatigue could be a factor with the Pacers playing for the second time in 24 hours.
“We just tried to show our fortitude somehow, try to win games under difficult circumstances,” said Indiana center Roy Hibbert, who had 15 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots. “They’re a good team, they’re the future of the NBA, they have a lot of young, talented players. I was just happy to get a win.”
West added 14 points for the Pacers, and reserve guard Donald Sloan scored 10.
Trailing 61-42, the Wolves made it interesting in the third, going on a 17-1 run and to pull within three points.
“You play any game, you want to kind of turn it on,” Williams said. “I thought we came out with the sense of urgency we needed in the second half. Those guys did a good job of coming out with some energy.”
NOTES: Pacers assistant coach Popeye Jones just missed an in-person opportunity to see his son play a hockey game in Minnesota by a matter of hours Saturday. While the Pacers were losing 76-73 in Denver, then traveling to the Minneapolis, D Seth Jones and the Nashville Predators were in St. Paul getting a 6-5 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild. … Meeting with the Twin Cities media for the first time before the game, newest Timberwolves G Troy Daniels said the three-team trade that brought him to Minnesota was unexpected. Daniels, who came to Minnesota from Houston in a Friday deal, said he was shocked but looking forward to the opportunity to play more. The Wolves got Daniels and a pair of second-round draft picks from the Rockets in exchange for G/F Corey Brewer, while Philadelphia got F/C Ronny Turiaf from Minnesota, and sent G Alexey Shved to the 76ers.
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