Indiana wins for 2nd time in 3 games since brawl

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Another improbable win has the Indiana Pacers brimming with confidence.

"Things aren't looking as bad for us as it was four days ago," forward Austin Croshere said.

Indiana has Jamaal Tinsley to thank for that.

Tinsley had 20 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds to lead the Pacers to a 106-102 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night, their second win in three games without the suspended Ron Artest,
Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson.

In the absence of their top three scorers, the soft-spoken Tinsley has made the Pacers his team.

"Jamaal Tinsley is the facilitator for us," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Right now he's doing things very few point guards in the league can do."

Croshere had 25 points and 11 rebounds and Fred Jones added 17 points for the Pacers, who seem to be taking a page out of Olympic gold medalist Argentina's playbook.

The Pacers used teamwork, superior 3-point shooting and a relentless point guard to offset talent deficiencies.

Indiana was 13-of-25 from 3-point range, consistently beat the Timberwolves to loose balls and made the extra pass for wide-open shots in its most impressive performance since Artest, O'Neal and Jackson were suspended for fighting with Detroit fans last week.

"On a night like tonight, when it looks like you're outmatched on paper significantly, you can't undersell guys coming together and playing together in front of great fans," Carlisle said.

Kevin Garnett led Minnesota with 23 points and nine rebounds and Wally Szczerbiak added 18 points.

Artest was suspended for the season, Jackson for 30 games, O'Neal for 25 and Anthony Johnson for five for their brawl with Detroit fans, who threw drinks, popcorn, a chair and other debris at Pacer players.

Indiana is also without Reggie Miller, Jeff Foster and Jonathan Bender, who are all on the injured list.

The Timberwolves have their own problems.

Michael Olowokandi was suspended for the game by the team after being arrested at an Indianapolis nightclub early Thursday morning.

Police used a stun gun to subdue the 7-0 center after he would not leave the club. He spent the night in jail and was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing, both misdemeanors.

"We are extremely disappointed in Michael Olowokandi's actions last night," general manager Jim Stack said in a statement. "Regardless of how the incident escalated, he never should have been in that situation."

The Pacers opened the third quarter with a 12-1 run to take a 59-46 lead and seize control of the game.

"I went out there and tried to keep the pressure on them at all times," said Tinsley, who scored 29 points in a win over Boston on Tuesday.

Croshere hit two 3-pointers during the spurt, one on a beautiful feed from a driving Jones that brought the hometown crowd to its feet.

The Timberwolves closed the gap to 73-67 with a 7-1 run late in the period, but Indiana responded with a 3-pointer from Eddie Gill and a free throw by Tinsley, pushing the lead back to 10 points heading into the fourth.

"It's like we were pacing ourselves, waiting to turn it on," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. "We were out there and it seemed like the last place we wanted to be."

With the Timberwolves threatening to get back into the game early in the fourth, Jones drove the baseline and threw down a tomahawk dunk that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

It was that kind of night for the Timberwolves, who surprisingly could not find a way to get reigning MVP Garnett into the offense against a ragtag group of role players and journeymen. The scrappy Pacers double- and triple-teamed Garnett most of the night, daring the other Timberwolves to beat them.

"It was an awkward night," Garnett said. "I was playing too passive."

He finally got going in the fourth, scoring seven straight points for Minnesota to help close the gap to 97-92.

But the Pacers closed out the win with free throw shooting to send Minnesota to its second straight loss.

"This is a no-mercy league," Saunders said. "We're back to the drawing board. We need to get back to basics."

Game notes
The Pacers wore throwback uniforms from the 1987-88 season. ... One of the loudest ovations of the night came during a timeout when a fan wearing an Artest jersey was shown on the big screen. ... After starting the last three games, Timberwolves center Ervin Johnson did not play on Thursday. ... The Pacers signed forwards Tremaine Fowlkes and Britton Johnsen on Thursday.