MINNEAPOLIS -- The new-look Minnesota Timberwolves performed in front of the home fans for the first time this preseason, and Danny Granger showed them that they still have plenty of work to do.
Granger broke out of a preseason-long shooting slump, scoring 20 of his 25 points in the first half to help Indiana to a 106-95 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday night in the Timberwolves' first home game since trading Kevin Garnett.
"We still have a long ways to go," Timberwolves forward Al Jefferson said.
Granger entered the game shooting just 33 percent in five preseason games, but was 8-of-14 against the Wolves. Indiana is going to need Granger's shooting touch if the once-proud franchise hopes to return to the playoffs this season.
"He's kind of been forcing the issue, and I think he let the game come to him tonight. He took the shots that were available," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "He moved better. He was more aggressive going to the glass. He got to the glass eight times. I thought he had an outstanding game."
Ike Diogu had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Mike Dunleavy added 20 points for Indiana.
Jefferson, the lynch pin of the 7-for-1 mega deal that sent Garnett to Boston this summer, had a KG-like performance in his first appearance in front of the hometown crowd.
He had 27 points and 17 rebounds, but looked confused at times in the paint. He will play both power forward and center this season, and Jefferson said he still has a lot to learn when the Timberwolves go small.
"I forget a lot of plays at the 5 spot," Jefferson said. "No excuses. You just have to do it."
The Wolves were just happy to be home after spending the first month of the preseason as NBA vagabonds. They spent the first 2½ weeks of training camp in Europe, then returned home only to be shipped right back on the road for two more preseason games.
"It seems like a lot longer than however long it has been," weary Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said. "If feels good to get back home and get our legs underneath us."
It was a startling scene at Target Center, an arena where for the last 12 seasons one couldn't walk five feet without running into some likeness of Garnett on an advertisement, plaque or video screen.
All those images have been wiped clean as the team tries to move forward with a group of nine players under the age of 26 in place of the biggest star the team has ever known.
By the looks of the near-empty Target Center, these fans aren't exactly excited about the post-KG era in Minnesota.
There couldn't have been more than a few thousand in the seats, making this game look like a summertime matchup between the WNBA's Lynx and Fever.
The few who did show up got a preview of what this season could look like. The young Wolves started off strong, out-hustling the Pacers and attacking the offensive glass in the first quarter.
Once the initial burst of energy wore off, however, the Pacers took control. They took advantage of poor perimeter defense to hit six of their first eight 3-pointers and forced the frustrated Wolves to jack up hurried shots and give up on plays too early.
Minnesota certainly could have used point guards Randy Foye and Sebastian Telfair, who have missed the majority of the preseason with injuries.
Rashad McCants (knee) and Mark Madsen (shoulder) also missed the game.
The Pacers are dealing with plenty of injuries of their own. Jermaine O'Neal (knee) missed his third straight game and David Harrison (ankle) and Troy Murphy (Achilles') also did not play.
Granger certainly did, showing flashes of the talent and versatility that made Larry Bird so high on him when he was drafted in the first round in 2005.
"It was really nice to see him knocking down shots," Dunleavy said.
Granger scored from inside and out, got to the line and added three rebounds and three assists in a complete performance.
"I just kind of let it come to me tonight," Granger said. "And it turned out a lot better."