MINNEAPOLIS, March 15 (Ticker) --
The Minnesota Timberwolves are falling fast in the Western Conference standings.
The Timberwolves suffered their season-high sixth straight loss, a 98-85 setback to the Indiana Pacers, who got a triple-double from rookie point guard Jamaal Tinsley
Minnesota's skid is its longest since an eight-game slide in December 1999. Before the streak, the Timberwolves (40-25) were contending for the Midwest Division title and one of the top seeds in the West. They are now just one-half game in front of Portland for sixth place.
"Your team is your family when you go through tough times," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "You need them more when you're going through the tough times than when you go through the good times. It's a lot more fun when it's good times, but sometimes in order to appreciate things that are good, you've got to go through some bad times."
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Jamaal Tinsley's second career triple-double proved he hasn't hit the rookie wall just yet.
The normally sharpshooting Wolves shot just 37 percent (34-of-92) from the field, including 4-of-20 from 3-point range. They scored just 50 points after the first quarter and nine in the third, when the Pacers pulled away.
"Anytime you're a team that's struggling -- and there's no question that's what we're going through -- when things go bad, you have a tendency to tighten up," Saunders said. "In the third quarter, we tightened up and tried to do things too quick."
"We are putting our heads down when things aren't going our way, and that is not helping our team," Wolves forward Wally Szczerbiak
Tinsley had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double of the season. He capped surges in the second and third quarters with three-point plays.
"Tinsley was breaking us down," Saunders said. "He was getting in there and making plays and that's one of the things he has the ability to do." Brad Miller
scored 23 points for the Pacers (33-32), who have won three in a row to climb back above .500. While Minnesota is plummeting, Indiana is climbing.
"Just because we're over .500, we can't get ahead of ourselves," Pacers guard Reggie Miller
A hook shot by Kevin Garnett
gave Minnesota a 47-44 lead with 6:40 left in the second quarter before Indiana took the lead for good with a 15-2 burst. Jermaine O'Neal
scored five of the first seven points and Tinsley's three-point play made it 59-49 with 37 seconds to go.
Garnett made a jumper to open the second half, but the Pacers scored the next 14 points. Brad Miller had six and another three-point play by Tinsley extended the advantage to 73-54 midway through the third quarter.
"It's kind of tough playing a team that's lost five in a row, especially at their home," Tinsley said. "I feel good about the game I played, but I still need to make better decisions."
A jumper by Reggie Miller gave Indiana its largest lead at 79-57 with 1:58 left in the period. Minnesota closed to 88-79 with 5:59 remaining, but Reggie Miller drilled a 3-pointer and Brad Miller added a layup, rebuilding the bulge to 14 points.
O'Neal scored 15 points and Reggie Miller added 14 for the Pacers, who shot 48 percent (38-of-79). Garnett had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Szczerbiak scored 21 points for the Wolves.
"Minnesota is a talented enough team to come out of a slump," Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "They're just snakebit right now. Every team hits a point in the season where you lose your rhythm. They've lost their rhythm."