Running thoughts: Timberwolves 107, Pacers 90

Here are my running thoughts from the Pacers’ 107-90 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

  • Victor Oladipo was in street clothes for the third straight game. His right knee remains sore, so he hasn’t been running or even practicing with the team. He was on the floor two hours before the game for dribbling and light shooting work.
  • No sweet homecoming for Pike product Jeff Teague. He suffered a Grade 1 left MCL sprain last week and is out indefinitely. But he did get more than two days at home. He did not talk to the media before the game.
  • Nate McMillan on Minnesota pregame: “It’s a big, physical team. It’s going to be a physical game. They want to play more in the half-court, grind it out. We want to get up and down. It starts with us forcing misses.”
  • Pacers’ start was as bad as we’ve seen: Four turnovers, 0-for-12 shooting, and they fell behind 17-0. Out of the timeout, Nate McMillan sent in veterans Damien Wilkins and Al Jefferson, playing for the second time in six games.
  • I like the decision by McMillan to use the bench as a motivator. He has not been pleased with the starters’ lack of urgency — not just tonight, but for more than a week — so he inserted Joe Young and the vets, who outscored the Wolves over the final five minutes of the first period, 13-6.
  • The first quarter was the Pacers’ lowest scoring quarter of the season – 13.
  • Pacers’ starters in the first quarter: 0 points, 0-for-11. Bench: 13 points, 6-for-11.
  • That group cut its deficit to seven, 28-21, as McMillan re-inserted Myles Turner.
  • First points scored by a Pacer starter came with 4:47 left in the half, a 19-foot jumper from Darren Collison.
  • Myles Turner, upset with the officiating, was assessed a technical foul late in the second. It’s his first of the season.
  • After missing all seven of their 3-point attempts in the first half, the Timberwolves opened the third quarter with back-to-back triples and two free throws for their largest lead of the game, 19.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic didn’t score in the first two quarters, but got the Pacers going in the third with 13 points, including three 3s.
  • The Pacers used a timeout with 5:14 left in the third after yielding two straight buckets. Then, the Timberwolves used one of their own to make it a timeout lasting more than five minutes. Can’t remember back-to-back timeouts like that before the final minutes of a game.
  • 73-53 after corner 3 from Taj Gibson, and eight unanswered scored by Minnesota.
  • Officials reviewed a common foul on Lance Stephenson at the 2:26 mark. As Karl-Anthony Towns set a screen, Stephenson put his elbow into KAT’s chest. It was upgraded to a Flagrant-1.
  • Outscored by 10 points in the first quarter and by 18 (38-20) in the third quarter. That’s too much to overcome.
  • Are you still reading? If so, I’m impressed.
  • Joe Young made the most of his opportunity. He scored a career-high 20 points in 24 minutes off the bench. Damien Wilkins played a season-high 27 minutes and had five points, three rebounds, and two assists.
  • Young: “Staying ready, being patient, and not pressuring myself. Just being ready that’s all it is. Coach trusting me go out there and bring intensity, and I did that as much as I can. But it’s all about the team.”
  • Second-round pick Ike Anigbogu made his first game appearance since Nov. 12, 23 games ago. And like Young, he scored a career-best seven points.
  • To close out 2017, the Pacers lost four in a row for the second time this season. Last time, in early November, they responded by winning six of their next seven games.
  • Minnesota, fourth in the West, improves to 23-14.
  • Up next: The Pacers (19-18) have two days between games, playing at Milwaukee on Wednesday. It’s unlikely that Oladipo, who has been sidelined for three straight games, returns then. Their schedule is favorable next week with just two games, so it’s probably best for them to keep him off his sore (and swollen) right knee for at least another week.
  • After the loss, Myles Turner (0 for 5) and Lance Stephenson (2 for 9) went across the street to the practice facility to get shots up.
  • Al Jefferson: “We got to figure it out, man. We can’t blame the coaches, we can’t blame the GM, we can’t blame the fans, we can’t blame nobody. We the ones out there. There’s just no effort at all. And that’s something you got to have.”
  • Happy New Year, everybody.

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