MINNEAPOLIS -- Finally healthy himself, Marquis Daniels filled Danny Granger's spot in the starting lineup just fine.
The rest of the Indiana Pacers were just as supportive in the first game following the All-Star forward's injury.
Daniels scored 24 points, Troy Murphy added 16 points and 14 rebounds, and the Pacers overcame a career-high 36 points by Minnesota's Randy Foye in a 112-105 victory over the Timberwolves on Friday night.
Indiana is the fourth-worst defensive team in the NBA in terms of average points allowed, but the Pacers are living up to their nickname on the other end.
"I think that's what this offense is designed for," said guard Jarrett Jack, who had 18 points. "Everybody's able to get a feel for the ball, and guys take advantage of opportunities."
Daniels has missed 15 games, here and there, because of a bad back.
"It's still tight, but overall it's getting better," he said. "It's starting to come around the corner."
The Wolves were coming around the corner until star big man Al Jefferson went down with a knee injury, rendering the rest of the season lost. They're 1-3 since the league's sixth-leading scorer and fifth-leading rebounder got hurt.
"We ain't going to be able to find our way without Al. We played 50 games with him," Foye said.
Minnesota missed 18 of 41 free throws, an aberration coach Kevin McHale was willing to overlook if it weren't for the 19 turnovers. He was baffled what he called a bunch of "bizarre" decisions and bounces the ball took on the court while his young team was trying to attack the basket.
Some of the passes wound up at players' feet.
"Guy's got to have a catcher's mitt to pick up the ball," McHale said.
The Wolves trailed by as many as 20 points, but closed to 100-92 and 102-97 on two more 3-pointers by Foye. But after a loose ball foul on Jack, Sebastian Telfair made only one of two free throws and Daniels knocked down a jumper from the corner to get the lead back to six with 35.9 seconds remaining.
Ryan Gomes contributed a season-high 26 points for Minnesota. Beyond Foye, Gomes and Mike Miller, who had 18 points, the rest of the Wolves shot 6-for-28 from the field. They frequently overdribbled and couldn't get any of their big men involved in the block.
"We're going to have to find our way how to play without Al," McHale said.
Granger and his 25 points-per-game are out for up to three weeks with a foot problem. Sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy, already absent for a big chunk of the season, was declared in the morning out indefinitely with his sore knee. Center Jeff Foster missed his fifth straight game a sprained ankle. Point guard T.J. Ford took an accidental elbow to the forehead from teammate Troy Murphy and was away from the court for a quarter while getting stitches.
This was Indiana's 17th different starting lineup this season, but it seemed to work.
"Terrific unselfishness," coach Jim O'Brien declared.
The Pacers sped away late in the second quarter -- Murphy had a double-double before halftime -- and opened up a 46-31 lead after Ford's no-contest layup. That prompted this from McHale: "We better defend right now! Let's go!"
Minnesota came within 67-62 on a jumper by Foye, who went 5-for-8 from 3-point range, but after a timeout Indiana built a bigger cushion. The Murphy-Ford mishap didn't faze the Pacers and, with a couple of mid-range makes by former Timberwolves center Rasho Nesterovic, they stretched the lead to 94-74 midway through the final period.
After one awkward-looking jump shot that Nesterovic proceeded to swish, one woman behind the Minnesota bench exclaimed, "He never did that when he played for us!"
O'Brien talked before the game about filling Granger's scoring void by committee, and that's precisely what they did. They're actually 4-1 without Granger this season, and three of those victories have come without Dunleavy as well.
The Pacers improved to 7-22 on the road, thanks in part to Daniels, who is still getting back into shape.
"When you've been out that long with a bad back, it's tough to condition," O'Brien said, "but he played well."
The two newest Timberwolves, F-C Shelden Williams and PG Bobby Brown, passed their physical exams after arriving at Target Center but did not dress for the game. They were acquired Thursday in a trade that sent G Rashad McCants and C Calvin Booth to Sacramento. ... Booth established a franchise record never to be broken, for fewest career minutes (one) among all players to ever appear in a game for Minnesota. ... PG Kevin Ollie returned for the Timberwolves. He missed the past 20 games because of a dislocated elbow.
|Indiana (23-34) «||33||28||25||26||112|
|IND:M. Daniels 24 Pts
IND:T. Murphy 14 Reb
IND:T. Diener 6 Ast
|MIN:R. Foye 36 Pts
MIN:K. Love 12 Reb
MIN:S. Telfair 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|M. Daniels, SG||42||11-18||1-2||4||1||1||24|
|J. Jack, PG||38||4-11||8-8||4||5||3||18|
|T. Murphy, C||37||4-12||5-6||14||3||3||16|
|T. Ford, PG||27||6-12||0-0||5||2||3||13|
|R. Hibbert, C||15||3-6||1-2||3||0||4||7|
|B. Rush, SG||26||4-12||1-2||3||1||1||10|
|R. Nesterovic, C||20||4-5||0-0||3||1||4||8|
|T. Diener, PG||19||2-5||0-0||1||6||2||6|
|M. Baston, SF||16||2-3||4-6||8||3||5||8|
|J. Foster, C||Did Not Play|
|J. Tinsley, PG||Did Not Play|
|M. Dunleavy, SG||Did Not Play|
|D. Granger, SF||Did Not Play|
|S. Graham, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. McRoberts, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|M. Miller, SF||40||7-12||2-3||8||5||3||18|
|R. Foye, PG||38||13-23||5-7||6||3||5||36|
|R. Gomes, PF||36||10-19||4-6||3||1||1||26|
|S. Telfair, PG||31||1-9||2-5||1||6||1||5|
|K. Love, PF||22||1-5||3-6||12||2||4||5|
|B. Cardinal, PF||18||1-2||0-0||5||1||2||2|
|K. Ollie, PG||17||0-1||2-4||0||0||2||2|
|R. Carney, SF||15||2-6||0-0||3||0||3||4|
|J. Collins, C||13||1-2||2-2||2||0||3||4|
|C. Smith, PF||10||0-3||3-8||2||0||0||3|
|M. Madsen, PF||Did Not Play|
|A. Jefferson, PF||Did Not Play|
|C. Brewer, SF||Did Not Play|
|B. Brown, PG||Did Not Play|
|S. Williams, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|