One team was tuning up. The other appeared tuned out.
Eliminating any thoughts of a surprising outcome immediately, the Pacers jumped out to a 25-point first-quarter lead and coasted to a 111-88 rout of a listless Minnesota team Monday before 11,845 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The victory reduced Indiana's magic number for clinching homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs to three.
The Pacers won their fifth in a row and ninth in 10 April games to improve to 39-22. Minnesota, playing without injured All-Star Kevin Love, lost its 10th in a row and fell to 25-37.
BY THE NUMBERS
David West had 22 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for the Pacers, whose starters once again did not have to play in the fourth quarter. Danny Granger scored 19 with seven rebounds and five assists. Paul George scored 18 with five rebounds and three assits. Roy Hibbert had his fourth consecutive double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, adding five blocked shots. George Hill scored 11 with four assists and three rebounds. The Pacers shot 44 percent and dominated the boards, 58-45.
J.J. Barea led the Timberwolves with 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting, adding nine assists. Darrick Williams and Michael Beasley scored 13 apiece. Nikola Pekovic had 10 points. The Timberwolves shot 36 percent.
"We keep talking about no matter who we play, to have suffocating defense. We came out with the killer instinct tonight. That set the tone for us. That’s what we want to go into the playoffs with." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
"Everything we do now is geared toward winning in the playoffs. And the first step is getting home-court advantage." - Vogel
"We’re playing good defense, sharing the ball and having fun out there." - Hill
"We need to continue to develop good habits for the playoffs. If we do that now it will come in the playoffs and that’s what we must continue to do to play against any of the teams, concentrate, work hard and go in with great work habits. This can spell success." - West
STAT OF THE GAME
While the Pacers improved to an NBA-best 9-1 in April, Minnesota lost its 26th consecutive April game, tying the NBA's all-time record for most consecutive losses in any month. The Timberwolves' last April victory came in 2009.
The game was over quickly. With Hibbert dominating inside and Granger outside, the Pacers bolted to a 32-7 lead in the first 8½ minutes. Though they missed nine of 10 as the T-Wolves cut it to 34-15 early in the second, the Pacers would not have any letdown. Consecutive 3-pointers by Granger, Hill and George pushed the advantage to 55-23 and consecutive dunks by Hill and George followed by Granger's fourth 3-pointer of the half made it 64-27. Indiana's halftime lead was 64-30.
The Timberwolves got no closer than 29 in third period as the Pacers took a 30-point lead, 93-63, into the fourth, setting up extended minutes for both teams' reserves. Minnesota capitalized on garbage time with an 18-0 run to close to 95-81 midway through the period as the Pacers missed nine shots in a row but a 3-pointer by A.J. Price and a layup by Lou Amundson quelled that uprising.
All five starters scored in double figures for the 10th time. Indiana is 9-1 on those games. ...This was the fourth game this season in which the Pacers held a lead of at least 30 points. Their biggest lead has been 44 against Charlotte. ... Though Collison returned to action, Hill will remain in the starting lineup for at least one more game. The Pacers are 5-0 with Hill in the lineup, making the decision on the ultimate starter a tough one for Coach Frank Vogel. "We've got two of the best point guards in the NBA," he said, "and it's that simple." Collison is not likely to play Tuesday in Philadelphia because he reported discomfort during Monday's outing. … Minnesota's Kevin Love did not make the trip due to concussion symptoms and missed his third consecutive game. Coach Rick Adelman said he had "no update on him at all" but said he had doubts about the return of the Timberwolves' leading scorer and rebounder this season. … The T-Wolves also were without point guard Luke Ridnour, out with a sprained right ankle. Ridnour told Adelman he expects to return before the end of the season.
The Pacers play their final road game of the regular season Tuesday in Philadelphia against the SIxers, who are in a three-way battle with New York and Milwaukee for the final two playoff seedings in the East. The Pacers and Sixers have split two games, with Indiana winning 111-94 at home and the Sixers winning 96-86 in Philadelphia.