With solid defensive effort, Pacers top Wolves to stay perfect at home
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INDIANAPOLIS -- George Hill scored a season-high 26 points, and Paul George had 11 of his 26 points during the decisive run Monday, leading the Pacers to a 98-84 victory over Minnesota.
Indiana has won four straight since losing at Chicago, is 13-1 for the first time in franchise history and remained perfect in eight home games this season.
And the NBA's hottest team won this game with the same script they've been using all season -- a strong defense.
The Timberwolves (8-8) shot just 32.6 percent from the field and was held to a season-low point total. Its previous worst was 92 points at Cleveland on Nov. 4. Kevin Love finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds.
Minnesota still managed to hang around most of the night -- until George led the Pacers on a 14-2 run that turned a 66-65 deficit into a 79-70 lead.
It was a rough conclusion to a 10-game, 15-day stretch for Minnesota -- a night it reached a deal to send former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams to Sacramento for Luc Mbah a Moute. Williams did not play in the game.
And after digging themselves into a 20-6 deficit midway through the first quarter, the Timberwolves spent the rest of the night playing catch-up.
They didn't tie the score again until Nikola Pekovic hit two free throws to make it 61-all with 4:53 left in the third quarter. Minnesota took the lead twice after that -- for a total of 22 seconds, the second time coming when Kevin Martin made three throws to give the Timberwolves a 66-65 edge with 3:09 to go in the quarter.
That's when George and the Pacers switched things into high gear.
George drove to the basket, drawing a foul and made two free throws. He came up with a steal on the ensuing possession and drove in for a highlight-reel windmill dunk to make it 69-66. When the Pacers missed their next shot, George came up with the loose ball again and made a nifty behind-the-back pass to David West, who jogged in for a layup. West closed out the 8-0 portion of the run with a 6-foot runner to give Indiana a 73-66 lead in the final minute of the third quarter.
Then George opened the fourth quarter with two more baskets as the Pacers extended their lead to as much as 92-73 and Minnesota never got within double digits again.
Martin and Pekovic each finished with 18 points.© The Associated Press