Budinger's layup lifts Wolves to win over Pacers
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — One by one, the key players for the Minnesota Timberwolves keep going down.
One by one, someone else keeps stepping up for a team that has emerged as one of the big surprises of the first two weeks of the season.
Chase Budinger converted a layup on a feed from Andrei Kirilenko with 0.8 seconds to go, lifting the Timberwolves to a 96-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
Budinger scored 18 points while subbing for the injured Brandon Roy, who left at halftime with a sore right knee. The three-time All-Star is attempting a comeback after chronic knee issues forced him to retire from Portland before last season.
Kevin Love (broken hand), Ricky Rubio (torn ACL) and JJ Barea (sprained foot) were already out for Minnesota, but that just doesn't seem to matter right now.
"It's OK," Kirilenko said with a shrug. "We'll still keep winning. Injuries, that don't matter. Winning is what matters.
Alexey Shved had 11 points and seven assists and Nikola Pekovic added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves (4-1), who are three games over .500 for the first time since they were 20-17 in the 2006-07 season.
George Hill had 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Pacers, who have lost three in a row. David West had 19 points and 13 boards.
"We just have to learn how to finish the game," Hill said. "We're there at the end of the game and that's the good part. There's no use in hanging our head now, there's 75 games left in the season, but we have to learn how to finish it."
Shved, a rookie from Russia, ran the pick-and-roll like a seasoned veteran against Indiana's stout defense, creating scoring chances for himself and his teammates.
His layup gave the Wolves a 78-69 lead with eight minutes to go in the game. But he also picked up his first American technical foul during a 7-0 run by the Pacers that got them within two points. West's putback two minutes later tied it at 86.
Shved followed with a tough drive and another layup off a steal from Kirilenko, and the Wolves used an 8-2 spurt to open a 94-88 lead with under a minute to play.
But Hill converted a three-point play, then made a tying 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 3.8 seconds remaining.
The final play was recommended by assistant coach Bill Bayno and designed for Kirilenko, who grabbed the inbounds pass on the right wing, calmly took a few dribbles and looked toward the basket. Budinger was out past the 3-point line and started cutting to get into position for a possible tip-in of a missed shot.
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