INDIANAPOLIS – An ugly stretch of basketball for the Indiana Pacers (19-18) continued on New Year’s Eve.
With Victor Oladipo sidelined with right knee soreness for a third straight game, Indy stood no chance against the Minnesota Timberwolves (23-14). The T-Wolves jumped out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back, winning 107-90 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Slow starts have plagued the Pacers this season and on Sunday, the Blue and Gold got off to a disastrous beginning. Indiana missed their first 12 shot attempts, allowing the Timberwolves to score the game’s first 17 points.
Not a single Pacers starter scored before head coach Nate McMillan called on his bench. Domantas Sabonis finally got Indy on the board with 5:15 remaining in the first quarter.
Despite the big hole they dug themselves into, the Pacers only trailed 23-13 after one.
Indiana actually pulled within as close as five in the second period, but a timely 7-0 run allowed the Wolves to go into the half with a 49-38 edge. Minnesota never let the Pacers back into the ballgame in the second half.
The Timberwolves scored the first eight point of the third quarter, extending their cushion up to 19. Indy rallied a bit, bringing their deficit back to 11, but a 16-2 T-Wolves run effectively ended this one. By the time the fourth quarter began, the Pacers trailed 87-58.
Minnesota cruised to a 17-point victory in a garbage time fourth quarter.
Joe Young, a rarely used guard, led the Pacers in scoring on NYE. Young scored 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting (3-for-4 from three). Without Oladipo, Indiana struggled once again. Indy’s starters combined for only 32 points, with Bojan Bogdanovic serving as the only double figure scorer with 13.
Jimmy Butler, who did not play in the Pacers’ win over the Wolves back in October, was the game’s highest scorer with 26. Karl-Anthony Towns posted a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
In desperate need of a win, the Pacers will head out to Milwaukee for their first meeting with the Bucks on Wednesday. Game time from Wisconsin is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.