Pacers vs Timberwolves (Preseason)

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Oct. 15, 2019

Oct. 15, 2019 - Goga Bitadze, T.J. McConnell, Myles Turner discuss Indiana's 119-111 preseason loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

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Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Oct. 15, 2019

Oct. 15, 2019 - Goga Bitadze, T.J. McConnell, Myles Turner discuss Indiana's 119-111 preseason loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Oct 15, 2019  |  01:38

Postgame: McMillan Press Conference - Oct. 15, 2019

Oct. 15, 2019 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan speaks with the media following Indiana's 119-111 preseason loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Oct 15, 2019  |  06:57

Goga Bitadze Scores His First Points for the Pacers

October 15, 2019 - Pacers first round pick Goga Bitadze drains the basket in the paint to score his first points as a member of the Indiana Pacers.
Oct 15, 2019  |  00:07

McConnell Lobs to Turner

October 15, 2019 - T.J. McConnell finds Myles Turner at the rim for alley-oop conversion.
Oct 15, 2019  |  00:06

Domas and Warren Connect for the Basket

October 15, 2019 - Domantas Sabonis and T.J. Warren run the give and go for the easy bucket inside.
Oct 15, 2019  |  00:07

Game Rewind: Pacers 111, Timberwolves 119 (Preseason)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Game Recap

The Indiana Pacers finished with a 3-1 preseason record after falling to the Minnesota Timberwolves 119-111 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. In his highly anticipated debut, Pacers top draft pick Goga Bitadze tied Doug McDermott for the most points scored by a Pacers player with 14. Domantas Sabonis, Edmond Sumner, and T.J. McConnell all finished in double digits as well.

With their probable starters sitting out for the second half, the Pacers sent in their reserves to finish out the game. Surprisingly, the team held their own against the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in the third quarter. They outscored the Timberwolves 37-32 in the third to take an 85-83 lead into the fourth. But Towns eventually took over the game and scored 13 points in the fourth quarter — more than any other player — to secure the victory for the Timberwolves.

The squad that recorded significant minutes during the first half will most likely also see the most time during the regular season. Coach Nate McMillan told media members before the game he wanted to "get them into a rotation" that they'll be "trying to play during the season."

Much like their previous preseason game four nights ago against the Bulls, the Pacers' starters struggled to make a shot in the early moments of the first quarter. They started the game 0-of-4 shooting until T.J. Warren received a lob from Sabonis to lay in their first bucket with 10:10 remaining. Warren finished his half of play on 1-of-5 shooting.

The Pacers managed to stick around early after converting six free throw attempts in the first 4:05 of the game. Soon after, Jeremy Lamb found a streaking Myles Turner for an emphatic right-handed slam to put the Pacers ahead 10-9 with 7:35 remaining in the first. Turner finished his half of play with eight points on 3-of-7 shooting.

Trailing 17-15 at the 3:52 mark of the first, Sabonis finally connected on his first 3-point shot of the preseason — an open look from the right side of the key — to put the Pacers back into the lead, 18-17. However, they failed to use this as momentum and Minnesota went on a 10-2 run over the final minutes to pull ahead 27-20 at the end of the first. The Pacers finished the first quarter on 6-of-27 shooting (22.2 percent).

The Timberwolves then started the second quarter on a 6-0 run over a 1:30 span to extend their lead to 33-20. McMillan was forced to call a timeout to stop the momentum from continuing.

After the timeout, Aaron Holiday and McConnell appeared to shift the momentum in the Pacers' favor. Right after the timeout, Holiday sank a baseline 3-point shot to end the Timberwolves run. He then made a running layup with 8:32 remaining in the half to cut the lead to 38-27. For the next 6:05 of the quarter, the Pacers chipped away at the lead. A McConnell steal and layup cut the deficit to 47-44 with 2:27 remaining in the half. With 4.9 seconds remaining McConnell lobbed the ball to Turner for the easy alley-oop layup to cut the Timberwolves lead to 51-48 before the halftime buzzer.

"I thought he was really good tonight," McMillan said of McConnell's play during his postgame press conference. "We needed him in a bad way in the sense I felt we were just flat. I put T.J. in late in the second quarter and told him I was going to start him in the second half, and he brought energy, and I'm looking for that. I like the energy and the tempo that be brought to the floor, but those minutes are going to have to be earned. Overall, he did some good things tonight."

When the third quarter began, the reserves stepped in and began to put on a show.

TJ Leaf and McDermott got the scoring started early. McDermott connected on three consecutive 3-point shots to give the Pacers a 59-58 lead with 10:25 remaining in the quarter. The lead was short-lived, however, as 10-year NBA veteran Jeff Teague completed a 3-point play to give the Timberwolves a 61-59 lead at the 10:03 mark. Thanks to nine combined points from Timberwolves starters Robert Covington and Andrew Wiggins, their lead grew to 70-63.

However, the quarter soon turned into the Bitadze show much to the delight of the crowd. Bitadze first ended the Timberwolves' run with a beautiful reverse layup. Then his contested 3-point shot cut the lead back down to 70-68 with 7:49 remaining. Later, his second 3-pointer of the quarter pushed the Pacers ahead 76-73 with 5:10 remaining. With 3:51 remaining in the third, Bitadze received an ovation from the crowd as he headed to the bench for a rest.

"They're showing love and it's really good for me," Bitadze said of the fans. "They're loud for me and it's a pretty good feeling."

"He impacts the game in so many ways," McConnell said of Bitadze. "Big-time players do it on both ends and he certainly does that...He's going to be very good in this league with his ability to step out and shoot it, put it on the floor and affect shots at the rim."

After Timberwolves rookie Jarrett Culver's consecutive layups propelled the Timberwolves back on top 79-78, Alize Johnson scored his first points of the night — a 3-pointer from the right wing — to push the Pacers back ahead 81-79 with 2:43 remaining. Soon after, Leaf broke an 81-81 tie with contested layup in the paint to put the Pacers ahead 83-81. Justin Holiday added a jumper late to keep the Pacers in front 85-83 when the third ended. In total, the Pacers' bench players shot 55.6 percent from the floor on 15-of-27 shooting.

"They did a good job," Turner said of the reserves' play in the third quarter. "They come in and compete with us every day in practice. So, I think they're battle tested and they're ready to go."

The Timberwolves' veterans appeared to be pulling away at the beginning of the fourth. A Jake Layman 3-pointer followed by a Wiggins jumper put the Timberwolves ahead 93-89 with 9:43 remaining and forced McMillan to call another timeout.

The timeout gave fans more hope heading into the final minutes of the game as McDermott and Aaron Holiday scored the next five points to put the Pacers back ahead 94-93 with 9:02 remaining.

However, with the game tied 98-98, the Pacers then went cold from the floor once again, scoring only seven points on 2-of-8 shooting from the floor over the next 4:32 span. The Timberwolves lead stretched to 113-105.

The Pacers attempted to make a run down the stretch, but failed to reduce the margin to anything fewer than six points, and the Minnesota walked away with the 119-111 victory.

T.J. McConnell

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Inside the Numbers

The Pacers' reserves shot 24-of-51 (47.1 percent) in the second half — 13.8 percent better than the starters in the first half.

The Pacers were outrebounded 65-50.

Indiana's bench outscored the Timberwolves' bench 78-46.

You Can Quote Me On That

"I feel like I still need to get into better shape, to go up and down a little better. Overall, we lost the game; but it's still preseason. I just go out and give 100 percent." - Goga Bitadze on how his first game went.

"He can shoot. He can pass. He's patient in the post. He defends the basket. He challenges shots at the rim. He defends the basket in a very similar way as Myles does." - Nate McMillan on assessing Goga's in-game play versus practice.

"It's just a learning experience with this team. There's a lot of new guys here and I think we're slowly but surely getting it together. We can do some great things with the addition of Victor (Oladipo) coming back. We've got a lot of people that can score and a defensive player on the year in Myles (Turner) protecting at the rim. We've got a lot of great pieces here." - T.J. McConnell on his preseason takeaways.


  • 14 players saw the floor in Tuesday's contest.

Up Next

The Pacers host Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 7:00 PM ET for Opening Night presented by Kroger. Find Tickets »


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