Budinger’s Layup Lifts Wolves Over Pacers
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Chase Budinger converted a layup on a feed from Andrei Kirilenko with 0.8 seconds to go, lifting the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 96-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
Budinger scored 18 points while subbing for the injured Brandon Roy. Alexey Shved had 11 points and seven assists and Nikola Pekovic added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves.
Roy left the game at halftime with a sore right knee. The former three-time All-Star is attempting a comeback after chronic knee issues forced him to retire from Portland before last season.
George Hill had 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds and David West had 19 points and 13 boards for the Pacers.
Shved, a rookie from Russia, ran the pick-and-roll like a seasoned veteran against Indiana’s stout defense, creating scoring chances for himself and his teammates.
His layup gave the Wolves a 78-69 lead with eight minutes to go in the game. But he also picked up his first American technical foul during a 7-0 run by the Pacers that pulled them within two points. West’s putback two minutes later tied it at 86.
Shved followed with a tough drive and another layup off a steal from Kirilenko, and the Wolves used an 8-2 spurt to open a 94-88 lead with under a minute to play.
But Hill converted a three-point play, then made a tying 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 3.8 seconds remaining.
The inbounds pass came to Kirilenko, who looked frantically for an open teammate, then calmly took two dribbles and fed a cutting Budinger for the game winner, sending the Target Center crowd into a euphoric roar.
Derrick Williams scored 15 points and Dante Cunningham had 11 for the Wolves, who at 4-1 are three games over .500 for the first time since they were 20-17 in 2006-07.
Both teams are spending the early portion of this season trying to figure out how to play without star players.
Kevin Love (broken hand) and Ricky Rubio (left knee) will miss at least the first month of the season. The Wolves also were missing JJ Barea with a sprained left foot and didn’t have Roy for the entire second half after his knee issues flared up.
Roy scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting, but couldn’t answer the bell for the second half, a troublesome sign this early in the season.
Roy sat out all of last season, but felt rejuvenated this summer after receiving an experimental treatment to try to address the lack of cartilage in both knees. In need of a veteran shooting guard who could get his own shot late in games, the Wolves signed him to a two-year deal. He played at least 21 minutes in each of the first four games this season, issuing no complaints.
The Pacers have some serious injury problems of their own. They found out this week they are going to have to play without leading scorer Danny Granger for the next three months because of an issue with his left knee, dealing a big blow to a scrappy team that gave the Miami Heat all they could handle in the playoffs last season. They’ve struggled to replace his offense, only topping 90 points twice this season.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Material may not be redistributed.