With every new game in this regular-season march to the playoffs, there will be new challenges. On Monday night, it wasn't simply the Minnesota Timberwolves, their fast-breaking offense and their relentless rebounders. The Indiana Pacers faced a trickier foe, their own annoyance. How they'd react when their defense would be scrutinized would help determine the outcome. Either Indiana would unravel under the symphony of whistles or they would unleash the passion and fury that coach Frank Vogel raves about. They chose to turn their frustration into focus and silenced the Timberwolves, running away with the 98-84 win. When George Hill picked up the third technical foul against the Pacers with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter, Minnesota went to the foul line to take the 66-65 lead. But that's when the Pacers simply shut up and played. They responded with a 22-4 run, igniting the Bankers Life Fieldhouse crowd and improving the record to 13-1, tied with the San Antonio Spurs for best in the NBA. Although Hill did not score a single point during the run, he still helped to light the fire. "After I got the tech, called everybody in the group and said, 'We've got to continue to play,'" Hill said. "'My fault for getting the tech, that was a mistake by me but I'll make it up somehow in the game.'" No need for a stress ball or a long, hot bath coupled with a glass of wine, in the locker room Hill simple went with a box of buttered popcorn. "Oh yeah, I'm alright," Hill said, munching while answering a question if he had calmed down yet. He was more than just OK on Monday night. Hill finished with a season-high 26 points and also provided a season-best seven assists while locking down Minnesota's Ricky Rubio, the engineer to the third-highest scoring offense in the league. "We got a great lift from a guy everybody forgets to mention when they talk about our team, George Hill," Vogel said. "He's capable of exploding like he did tonight." Since the second game of the season, Hill has heard the call from teammates imploring him to score more. So, he felt Monday he could change his passive reputation. "My teammates being on me to be aggressive, because they say I'm probably the most unselfish guy on this team that always looks to pass first rather than score," Hill said, explaining his mindset. "So I tried to just come out tonight and be that scorer that they tell me to be." While Hill made the effort to change, the Pacers continued their robust style of play – or least attempted to.
Indiana Pacers take care of Minnesota Timberwolves 98-84
Indianapolis Star | Nov 26