Pacers visit Minnesota
(SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves are in the hunt for a postseason spot and will get back to work Wednesday versus the Indiana Pacers in the finale of a four-game homestand at Target Center.
The Timberwolves are six games out for the final postseason berth in the Western Conference and were able to stop a season-high four-game slide before the All-Star break with last Wednesday's 117-90 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Love poured in 32 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out eight assists, while Corey Brewer and Jose Barea scored 22 and 18 points, respectively. Chase Budinger had 12 points and Ricky Rubio compiled 11 with 12 assists and seven steals for Minnesota, which shot 52.3 percent and scored 29 points off 21 Denver turnovers.
"It's always a tough game before the break. We came out with energy. We were excited to play and knew we needed a win. We came out and played hard. It was a great game for us," Love said.
Love, who is averaging 31.5 points and 14.3 rebounds in his last eight games and leads the NBA with 44 double-doubles, posted 13 points and nine rebounds in the All-Star Game, which was won by the Eastern Conference, 163-155.
"It was a a lot of fun," Love said after the extravaganza. "I'm going to rest tomorrow and hopefully Tuesday and be ready to go for Wednesday."
Minnesota is 15-11 at home and is averaging 105.5 points per game. On defense the Wolves are allowing 101.8 ppg and opponents are shooting 46.8 percent. The Wolves will need to turn it up on defense if they intend on making the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
After the Timberwolves host the East-leading Pacers, they will embark on a five-game western jaunt through Utah, Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento and Denver.
In injury news for the T'Wolves, guard Kevin Martin (thumb) and center Nikola Pekovic (ankle) are both out indefinitely.
Indiana proved once again it has the top defense in the league with Tuesday's 108-98 victory versus the Atlanta Hawks in the finale of a three-game homestand (2-1).
The Pacers forced 22 turnovers, leading to 35 points, and kept an opponent under 100 points for a fourth straight game. Paul George was coming off his All-Star Game performance and led Indiana with 26 points, while David West added 17, Lance Stephenson scored 13 and Roy Hibbert chipped in 10.
Indiana lost two of three games heading into the break and is 6-2 this month.
"We started the season 9-0 and 16-1 and we haven't reached that level of winning since then. Now that the dog days of the season are behind us, we want to start the second half of the season as well as we started the first half," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said.
The Central-leading Pacers are 2 1/2 games ahead of Miami for Eastern Conference supremacy and will put their 15-9 road record to the test Wednesday. They will also visit Milwaukee on the quick jaunt.
Indiana is first in opponents' scoring (90.5 ppg) and field-goal percentage (41.2 percent).
The Pacers defeated the Timberwolves 98-84 back on Nov. 25 at home, as George and George Hill netted 26 points apiece. Love had 20 points and 17 rebounds in that one for the Timberwolves, losers in four of five and seven of the last 10 matchups with the Pacers.
Indiana has lost three of four and six of its last eight games at Minnesota.