Pacers win first preseason game
INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—The Indiana Pacers are no longer winless in the NBA preseason. Danny Granger(notes) is one reason, but two of the Pacers’ key off-season additions—point guard Darren Collison(notes) and rookie first-round draft selection Paul George(notes)—were also factors as Indiana pulled away from the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 98-86 victory Wednesday night.
Not that Pacers coach Jim O’Brien was thrilled with the victory—or with holding the Timberwolves to 31.9 percent shooting.
“We have to become a much better and tougher defensive team,” O’Brien said. “We’ll have plenty of offensive weapons, but we need to grow at the defensive end.”
Granger, the Pacers’ franchise player, scored 10 of his game-high 30 points in the third quarter as Indiana (3-1) turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 72-65 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Granger also had 10 rebounds and four assists.
The Pacers got a significant contribution from not only George, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2010 NBA draft, but several players they’re trying to work into a new lineup. Acquired to help the Pacers from three-point range, George shot 3-of-21 from the field in the first three preseason games, including 1-of-7 from 3-point range.
He shot 4-of-9 Wednesday, 2-of-5 from 3-point range.
Collison, who was acquired by the Pacers in a four-team, five-player deal, had 19 points. Eight of those points came in a fourth quarter.
“He scored well,” O’Brien said. “He has a long way to go defensively, a long way to go.”
Center Roy Hibbert(notes) scored five of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, and he also finished with a game-high 14 rebounds. Forward Josh McRoberts(notes), starting at power forward after the off-season trade of Troy Murphy(notes), finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Guard Mike Dunleavy, who missed 68 games with injuries in 2008-2009 and who started just 15 games last season, scored nine points in his third start in four preseason games.
The Timberwolves, who entered the game unbeaten in their first three preseason games, took a five-point first-half lead with a balanced offense. Forward Kevin Love(notes) had all nine of his points in the first half for Minnesota, and forward Michael Beasley(notes) had seven of his nine points in the first half.
No Minnesota starter played more than 26 minutes. Every Indiana starter played at least 25 minutes.
“The Pacers came out with the mindset that they wanted to drill us right away in the second half,” Ridnour said.