The Minnesota Timberwolves seek their seventh win in the last eight games on Monday when they host the Indiana Pacers in Minneapolis.
The Timberwolves weathered 42 points from Joel Embiid on Friday to win their sixth game in the last seven, 121-120 in double overtime. D’Angelo Russell, who scored 35 points, dished the last two of his eight assists to Naz Reid and Taurean Prince in the final 30.9 seconds.
Prince’s basket with 4.8 seconds remaining was the game-winner.
“That’s probably one of the best D’Angelo Russell performances I’ve ever seen,” Karl-Anthony Towns said in his postgame press conference. “The defense he played, as well as the offense he gave us … It came to a point where the game was on the line and all of us was like, ‘(Russell) is the best person to be in the game for defense.’ That says a lot for his growth as a player.”
Russell came through defensively in Philadelphia when he made a steal to set up Prince’s game-winning basket. But his offense has been central to the Timberwolves’ play of late. Russell is averaging 21.6 points and 6.3 assists over Minnesota’s last seven.
Despite being listed as questionable going into Friday’s game, Towns played a critical role in the win with 28 points and 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.
Anthony Edwards scored 19 points in Philadelphia, and in a Nov. 14 triumph over Miami, finished with 33 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
Indiana’s trip to Minnesota marks a single road game bookended by homestands on either side. The Pacers went 1-2 at home leading up to Monday’s matchup, the most recent decision a 118-100 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday.
Indiana endured offensive droughts in the second and third quarters on the first half of its back-to-back, the latter resulting in a 15-4 Bucks run that effectively put the game out of reach.
The Pacers shot just 12-of-45 from 3-point range (26.7 percent). Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said that made a key difference in the outcome.
“We needed to have a 35, 36, 37 percent night (shooting from 3-point range) at least to be where we needed to be,” he said in his postgame press conference. “It’s frustrating.”
Indiana’s season-long average below 34 percent ranks in the lower-half of the NBA. Fixing that won’t be an easy task against Minnesota. The Timberwolves are allowing an average of 31.9 percent from long range, third-best in the NBA.
Caris LeVert scored a season-high 23 points in the loss. LeVert’s 19 points in the previous outing, a 114-97 Pacers win over Toronto, was his most since returning from an absence due to back soreness on Nov. 13.
“He was the one guy (who) really generated some (offense),” Carlisle said. “Hopefully he’ll be able to play (Monday) night, but I don’t know that.”
LeVert’s availability for the second leg of back-to-back games is the only injury question mark for either team ahead of the matchup.
The Pacers return home for six straight after Monday’s matchup.