Ellis has 22 points, pushes Pacers past Timberwolves 102-88
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) For three quarters, the Indiana Pacers couldn't make shots against one of the most generous defenses in the league, continuing a frustrating stretch for the league's fourth-best 3-point shooting team.
Veterans Monta Ellis, Paul George and the rest of the Pacers found their stroke in the fourth to offer the latest lesson to the young Minnesota Timberwolves.
Ellis had 22 points and George added 18 to help Indiana overcome a fourth-quarter deficit and beat Minnesota 102-88 on Saturday night. Jordan Hill scored 12 points off the bench as the Pacers snapped a three-game skid.
''This one was very important, especially losing to a sub-.500 team at home and having a game we should win coming into this one,'' George said. ''It's good that we were able to get the job done.''
Entering with a 37.3 shooting percentage from 3, Indiana was 3 of 17 from beyond the arc through three quarters. The Pacers then hit 6 of 9 from 3 and 15 of 21 total from the floor in the fourth.
With Ellis taking over, Indiana erased Minnesota's largest lead of seven points in the closing minute of the third and first few minutes of the fourth with a 16-2 run. The Timberwolves cut the lead to 86-84 on Rubio's 3, but George and Rodney Stuckey hit back-to-back 3s and the Pacers didn't look back.
Ellis scored 16 in the second and seven in the fourth. George was 4-of-13 shooting through three quarters before going 3 of 3 for eight points in the fourth.
''We're a good 3-point shooting team,'' Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. ''We haven't shot the ball well of late, but we feel like that's going to come around as long as we're moving the basketball. We got 25 assists, so we are trying to move it. We feel like the shots are going to go.''
The more-experience Pacers benched outscored Minnesota 38-24.
Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell also stuck with his young group of rookie Karl-Anthony Towns, second-year players Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, third-year forward Gorgui Dieng and point guard Ricky Rubio to close out the game.
''They made too many mistakes, but we understand that and we've just got to keep working with them,'' Mitchell said. ''It's not going to happen overnight. Everybody thinks defense is easy in the NBA. It's hard because all you see is pick and roll; all you see is guys quick enough to beat you off the dribble.''
Towns had 24 points and eight rebounds for Minnesota, which has lost three in a row. Rubio finished with 15 points, nine assists and five rebounds.
Both teams were mistake prone, combining for 45 turnovers.
The Pacers' lethargic start included five turnovers in the first five minutes with two shot-clock violations. The 23 turnovers for Indiana matched the most in a win since Feb. 1, 2014. It was a season high for turnovers by a Timberwolves' opponent.
Minnesota's 22 turnovers matched its second-highest total of the season. The Timberwolves had committed 24 turnovers in a loss at Phoenix on Dec. 13.
Minnesota guard Kevin Martin sat for the second straight game as Mitchell continues to give more minutes to his younger players.
Tayshaun Prince has started the two games at small forward with Wiggins moved to shooting guard in the starting lineup.
LaVine has been playing more shooting guard the past two games off the bench, which is where Martin has started 12 of his 26 games this season. Rookie point guard Tyus Jones has received his most extensive action of the season the past two games following a short stint in the Developmental League.
Pacers: Stuckey briefly left the game in the first period with a sprained right ankle. . Indiana coach Frank Vogel went back to his smaller starting lineup for the second straight game with George and C.J. Miles starting at forward with Lavoy Allen coming off the bench. . Off the bench, Jordan Hill has scored double figures in 10 of his past 13 games.
Timberwolves: Towns had his eighth 20-point game of the season. Only Philadelphia's Jahlil Okafor has more such games as a rookie this season with 12. Towns had 12 points in the first quarter, his second double-digit scoring first quarter of the season. The two occasions have been in the past three games. . Minnesota had eight steals in the third, tying a club record. The most recent game with eight steals in a quarter was 11 years ago, Dec. 26, 2004.
Pacers: host Atlanta on Monday.
Timberwolves: visit San Antonio on Tuesday.