Pacers-Timberwolves Preview

BY foxsports • December 25, 2015

Paul George and Andrew Wiggins recently had trouble getting untracked against the San Antonio Spurs, but neither swingman could be contained the last time they met.

George and the Indiana Pacers look to avoid their first four-game slide Saturday night when they visit a Minnesota Timberwolves team that is rebuilding around Wiggins.

These players rank among the league's best in scoring, with George second in the Eastern Conference at 25.0 points per game while Wiggins is averaging 20.9.

Each got to test himself against one of the league's powerhouses in the last week, but the results weren't pretty. George was 1 for 14 for a season-low seven points Monday in a 106-92 loss at San Antonio before Wiggins shot 2 of 11 with 10 points in a 108-83 home defeat against the Spurs two nights later.

Wiggins, the reigning rookie of the year, chalked it up as a learning experience.

"You're always learning," he said. "You can never be so negative to the fact or so close-minded that you can't learn."

The only time the two met was Indiana's 107-103 home victory Nov. 13. George made 8 of 17 shots for a game-high 29 points to go with nine rebounds while Wiggins was 10 of 19 for 26 points.

That contest showed some similarities in how they are used. Wiggins was credited with six isolations, seven drives and shot off the dribble eight times. George recorded five isolations, six drives and also shot off the dribble on eight occasions.

George followed up his poor effort versus the Spurs by making 5 of 19 shots for 12 points in Wednesday's 108-106 home loss to Sacramento. The Pacers (16-12) have lost three straight for the first time since beginning 0-3.

Indiana has dropped a season-high five straight on the road and has lost six of its last seven to Western Conference foes.

"On the road, you're not going to be able to dig yourself out of those holes," forward C.J. Miles said. "Our focus needs to be even higher."

George is shooting 31.6 percent in his last seven games.

Teammate George Hill has totaled 35 points in his last two after averaging 10.2 in a 12-game stretch following a three-game absence due to an upper respiratory infection.

"Since he came back from that respiratory thing, he hadn't been quite himself," coach Frank Vogel said. "So I think the last two games, he's returned to that. That's encouraging."

Minnesota (11-18) owns one of the NBA's worst home records at 4-11.

Veteran guard Kevin Martin did not play Wednesday, sitting out for the first time when he was available. First-round pick Tyus Jones was the beneficiary of the available minutes, logging a season-high 19.

The Timberwolves are committed to giving minutes to younger players like Jones. Rookie Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 15.9 points and second-year guard Zach LaVine has turned in back-to-back 17-point efforts.

"It's not a perfect situation and K-Mart's been great, but it is what it is," coach Sam Mitchell said. "I'm not saying K-Mart's not going to play, but I talked to him before the game and he understands some of the things we're trying to do."

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