Minneapolis, MN – Chase Budinger's game-winning layup in the waining seconds of the game gave the Minnesota Timberwolves a 96-94 triumph over the Indiana Pacers on Friday.
Budinger, who notched a team-high 18 points off the bench, put in an uncontested layup with less than a second to play to give the Timberwolves their third straight win, matching their longest streak from all of last season.
Derrick Williams tallied 15 points and Nikola Pekovic totaled 13 points and eight rebounds, while Alexey Shved and Dante Cunningham each added 11 off the bench for Minnesota in the victory.
George Hill, who scored a game-high 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting, drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 94-94 before Budinger's decisive score. David West contributed 19 points and 13 rebounds in the defeat.
"We played hard, but we let it slip away," said Hill. "But that is expected out of a young team. We just have to get better at finishing games."
Both teams were neck-and-neck most of the first three quarters until Minnesota started to create some separation by bridging the third and fourth periods with a 9-3 run to take a 74-66 lead with 10:52 to play.
Shved's layup with 8:09 remaining gave Minnesota its largest lead of the game at 78-69, but Hill brought Indiana back to within two after scoring five straight points. His layup just over six minutes into the quarter made it 78-76.
But the T'Wolves never relinquished their advantage. West scored on a tip back to tie the game, but Shved and Pekovic each poured in baskets from inside the paint before Cunningham's jumper put Minnesota on top by six with 39 seconds remaining.
Indiana continued to fight, however, as Hill drew a foul after draining a running jump shot and completed the three-point play to cut the deficit to 94-91.
On Minnesota's next possession, Kirilenko found a wide-open Pekovic underneath the basket, but he somehow missed on the easy score. West grabbed the rebound and Indiana called timeout with 8.8 ticks to play with a chance to tie the game.
The Pacers, who came into the game having had three of their first five games come down to the final possession, found themselves in a similar situation, and Hill capitalized.
Indiana inbounded the ball to him and he shook the defender and drained a fade-away three to tie the game at 94-94 with 3.8 seconds to play.
But after a Minnesota timeout, Kirilenko found a cutting Budinger for an uncontested layup to give the Timberwolves a two-point lead with under a second to play.
"We're a very deep team," said Budinger. "A lot of guys are stepping up with guys getting hurt and going down. Each and every game it seems like there is a new guy stepping up for this team, and that's what we need to win."
Paul George's full court heave was no good and the Timberwolves escaped with the victory.
Minnesota got out to an eight-point advantage in the second following three Shved free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt
But Lance Stephenson buried a three before scoring on a layup to tie the game at 32-32 and Hill scored the Pacers' final seven points of the quarter to give Indiana a 43-42 halftime edge.
The Pacers were never able to create any breathing room, however, and led by just three points before the Timberwolves grabbed back the lead in the third.
Budinger tallied 10 of his points in the period and knocked down a jump shot to give the T'Wolves a 63-61 advantage with 2:50 to go in the third. Malcolm Lee concluded the quarter with a reverse layup to give Minnesota a five-point lead going into the final stanza.
JJ Barea did not play after spraining his foot last game against the Magic and will not travel with the team when the hit the road to play Chicago and then Dallas ... Minnesota shot 50 percent from the field compared to Indiana's 44 percent ... The Timberwolves bench outscored the Pacers' reserves, 48-25.