Budinger's Buzzer Beater Lifts Wolves Past Pacers 96-94
Web Editorial Associate
The play was originally designed for Andrei Kirilenko, but not everything goes as planned.
With under a second left in a tied game, Chase Budinger broke to the basket and scored on a backdoor cut to give the Wolves a 96-94 win and a 4-1 overall record that is tied for first in the Western Conference.
“The whole play was set up for AK [Kirilenko],” Budinger said in the locker room. “He was about to shoot the turn-around jumper, so in my mind, I thought to just sprint to the basket and try to get a tip-in. I cut, and my man fell asleep. AK has such good vision, and he saw me under the basket for a lay-up.”
Wolves vs Pacers
Friday night was a special one for Budinger; he came off the bench to score a season-high 18 points on 4-of-6 shooting in addition to going9-of-10 from the free-throw line. In the Wolves’ first five games of the season, five different players have led the team in scoring—speaking to just how much everyone on the roster is stepping up despite mounting injuries.
“This is what we expected,” Derrick Williams said. “We knew that with Love going down and Ricky out, of course JJ [Barea], too, more guys have to step up. We have a lot of guys that can play, and I think we are showing that right now.”
The battle between the two teams was close in the first half, as the lead changed eight times. Minnesota went into halftime up by a single point, and began to pull away when its second unit stayed steady while the starters rested. To the Pacers, it may not have been clear which was the better group.
“Since beginning of the preseason, I’ve said that I love what I see,” Kirilenko said. “We have a variety of guys at every position. In the crunch moments, they are sure of what they are going to do.”
Indiana made a final push at the end of the fourth quarter when George Hill hit a floater that came with a free throw for a three-point play. Pekovic missed a lay-up on Minnesota’s next possession, and Hill hit a step-back 3-pointer to tie up the game. The Timberwolves called a timeout, and the game-winning play was drawn up.
Hill enjoyed a fantastic night with 29 points and seven assists; David West had a double-double for Indiana with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
“He was unbelievable,” Budinger said of Hill. “He was attacking, hitting floaters, step-backs, everything. It was that kind of night.”
In addition to Budinger’s 18 points, Williams added 15, and Nikola Pekovic had 13. Other double-digit scorers included Alexey Shved and Dante Cunningham with 11 each.
Leader of the Pack: Chase Budinger
Who else? Budinger had a good game with 18 points, but his most important bucket came with under a second left to win the contest. Already noted for his ability to move without the ball and get open, Budinger wormed his way to the hoop for a wide-open lay-up—an exclamation point on an already impressive game from him.
Highlight of the Night
With the score tied up, Minnesota’s bench called a timeout with 3.8 seconds left. Kirilenko received the ball off the inbound and had a chance at a baseline jumper, but hesitated. Meanwhile, Budinger ran up to the top of the key from the low block and made a sharp cut down towards the hoop. Kirilenko saw him and tossed a pass inside, finding Budinger for the game-winning score.
“We had 3.8 seconds,” Kirilenko recalled. “As soon as I got the ball, I turned around and I was ready to shoot it—but I saw Chase had such a great cut.”
While a more selfish player might have launched a contested shot from the baseline, Kirilenko held on and found the better play.
“You have to give Andrei credit because he was really patient when he got it,” coach Rick Adelman said. “He didn't throw the quick shot, and Chase got an unbelievable cut from the 3-point line. He came all the way from the three-point line and in.”
The Numbers Game
Quote of the Night
“I gave him two hugs”—Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic, when asked by media if he hugged Chase Budinger after his game-winning lay-up.
Minnesota flew to Chicago immediately after Friday night’s win, preparing for Saturday’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls. The Wolves go from there to Dallas, where they face the Mavericks on Monday before returning home to Minneapolis.