Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 1/20

Game 1: Friday, January 20th
Game 2: Friday, April 14th

Timberwolves 77

(33-47, 9-32 away)

Pacers 89

(39-40, 26-14 home)

    Coverage: FSMW

    8:00 PM ET, April 14, 2006

    Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIN 18 27 19 1377
    IND 28 21 24 1689

    Top Performers

    Minnesota: E. Griffin 18 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Blk

    Indiana: J. O'Neal 29 Pts, 12 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Blk

    O'Neal scores 29 as Pacers beat depleted T-Wolves

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- With Jermaine O'Neal healthy, the Indiana Pacers are poised to make the playoffs for the ninth straight season.

    O'Neal had 29 points and 12 rebounds to help Indiana beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 89-77 on Friday night for its third straight win.

    It was his highest point total since returning from a torn left groin a month ago and his second straight double-double. He had 21 points and 15 rebounds in Wednesday night's win over Boston.

    "He's getting healthy, that's what it is," Indiana guard Stephen Jackson said. "His attitude has always been great, he's always been a leader. He's getting back to his All-Star caliber game. Everybody knew when he got healthy he'd be playing like this. We're just happy to have him back."

    Jackson scored 17 points and Anthony Johnson added 12 for the Pacers.

    Indiana (39-40) is tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with Milwaukee and Washington. The Pacers need to win two of their last three to avoid their first losing season since 1996-97, the last time they missed the playoffs.

    The Pacers held the Timberwolves to 32 percent shooting and 32 points in the second half.

    "We were teetering on not putting those guys away but we were able to put together some stops there in the second half," Johnson said.

    Eddie Griffin had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Marcus Banks added 15 points for the Timberwolves, who have long been out of the Western Conference playoff hunt.

    The Timberwolves were missing several key players, including top scorer and rebounder Kevin Garnett, but their reserves hung with the Pacers for a while. Indiana led by as many as 10 points in the second quarter but Minnesota took a 54-53 lead on a layup by Justin Reed with 8:27 left in the third quarter.

    The Pacers, led by Austin Croshere's seven points, outscored the Timberwolves 20-10 the rest of the period to take a 73-64 lead into the fourth quarter.

    The Pacers held Minnesota to 5-for-18 shooting in the fourth quarter.

    Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said he was proud of some of his younger players for making the Pacers work hard.

    "We're missing two of our main horses and our young guys can keep their heads up against a playoff-hungry team," he said.

    Croshere scored nine of his 11 points in the second half to help the Pacers rally.

    "We kept playing," Jackson said. "We didn't do what we normally do and that's clock watch."

    The Pacers outscored the Timberwolves 20-6 from the free-throw line and won the rebounding battle 46-41.

    The Pacers are 3-0 since a players-only meeting after Sunday's 25-point loss at Detroit.

    "We just really thought we needed to put aside differences, whatever they were, put aside the problems we had among each other with the staff or the organization or whatever it may be," O'Neal said. "The fact of the matter was that we still hadn't learned to play hard."

    Game notes

    Garnett sat out for the fourth straight game with tendinitis in his right knee. Anthony Carter, Ricky Davis, Troy Hudson and Rashad McCants also sat out with injuries. ... Minnesota's makeshift starting five entered the game averaging a combined 37 points. Indiana's averaged 57. ... Indiana center Jeff Foster sat out with a sore lower back and guard Fred Jones missed the game with a torn ligament in his left thumb. ... Indiana center David Harrison played briefly after missing four games because of a sore left knee.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 77 89
    FGM-FGA 33-76 (.434) 33-73 (.452)
    3PM-3PA 5-12 (.417) 3-15 (.200)
    FTM-FTA 6-13 (.462) 20-29 (.690)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-41 13-46
    Assists 17 21
    Turnovers 14 11
    Steals 6 7
    Blocks 4 6
    Fast Break Points 12 11
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (1/0) 17 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 4 14

    Top Performers

    Eddie Griffin Griffin
    Points: 18
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2
    Jermaine O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 29
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2